Virtual Services

5th Sunday after Trinity – 12th July 2020

Welcome

Good Morning and Welcome to All Saints virtual service on this the second Sunday in July. I do trust that you are continuing to stay safe and well, as well as looking out for one another and those in your immediate vicinity. We also learned this week the sad news that Claire May had died peacefully in Henleigh Hall on Monday and I know that many of you will miss her and will feel this deeply. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and all who will miss her.   

Over July and August, Bishop Pete and his senior staff team are providing reflections on the Gospel readings, and so this morning Christine Gore, the Director of Formation and Ministry and Principal –Designate of St Peter’s College will speak on the parable of the sower. But let us begin with a prayer:  

Lord Jesus, as we gather today, 
may we have eyes to see 
and ears to hear 
what you are saying to us. 
Make us ready to learn 
from your stories. 
Amen. 

© ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2020. 
Reproduced with permission. 

Worship

So let us offer to God our thanks and praise as we listen or sing along to the song below.  

The words of the chorus remind us that God is Faithful and lets us remember this as we listen or sing along to ‘What a Faithful God have I” 

In the next moments before you go on to listen to the God’s word, let God know what is on your heart, you may want to share this out loud with those around you or just with God. You may want to hold them in silence and use the stretching out of hands, palms upwards as a physical gesture of what you saying in your heart.  

When you are ready, move on to the reading.   

Word

The parable of the sower

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.’

18 ‘Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 when anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.’

Matthew 13
1-9, 18-23

Let’s imagine the scene- you are sowing wheat in one of the fields next to your family home. As you walk up and down, the years of practice mean that every handful of seed you scatter, lands, more or less,o n the soil you’ve spent weeks preparing. Then suddenly the breeze off the Lake increases- your aim isn’t so good now and some of the precious seed lands at the edge of the field. on the path,in the weeds. on the poor soil. You adjust your aim and pay a bit more attention to the task,accepting that the birds will have a good lunch and come harvest time, the poor may have a few extra stalks for gleaning.

Coming in from your task the family are all buzzing- the teacher you’ve heard so much about is down on the beach! So you scoop up your lunch and head down to the Lake- not wanting to miss the man whose been wowing the crowds,winding up the Pharisees and worrying his family with his antics!

The crowd is so huge,the teacher has to get into a boat anchored,a  short way from the shore,and as they settle down to listen,he tells a story of a man sowing seed and once more you back in your field. reliving your morning’s labours.

… A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed,some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it.Some fell in the gravel;it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots,so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly.Some fell in the weeds;as t came up,it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good eath, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.

8 “Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

 

You’ve been nodding as the story unfolds, then suddenly you are brought up short, what on earth did he mean by;”Are you listening to this? Really listening?”  You look at your mother-in­ law and she shrugs, none the wiser. So you tuck into your lunch,paying a bit more attention to what follows.

When you get home that evening, you glance  over to the field you’ll be working in tomorrow. Once more the story  of the sower comes to mind and you spend a moment mulling over what it might mean.Perhaps the familiarity of the task had side-tracked you, maybe the thing you should be focusing on was the soil and not the sowing?  You yawn­  bedtime, there’ll  be plenty of time to think about that  tomorrow when sowing that next field!

Jesus was a such a skilful teacher- he preferred not to deliver  clever arguments, or impart lots of information. Instead, he chose to engage people’s imaginations and emotions by telling them  stories. Memorable stories, that  made connections with their everyday  lives, but which also contained a twist that got them  asking questions and thinking about  what they had heard.  And as people  mulled  over their meaning, talked  about it with  others- gradually, at least for some, a new insight was gained and because  they had worked so hard to fathom it out, it made much more of an impact than if Jesus had just told it to them  straight. [But Remember, if you are feeling a bit inadequate for the task- take heart  even the disciples sometimes needed  some divine  help before they got it!]

This parable  is possibly very familiar to you, and in being so, you may just find yourself nodding and not feeling particularly engaged. It’s a parable I have known  since childhood, when I was taken to Methodist Sunday School and where  I later became a Sunday school teacher, despite not having much of a faith  to speak of- and certainly nothing like the friends I had at school  who had found Jesus! It didn’t really connect with me until  I was 21 and at university, when I had reached a crunch point  and said to God- ‘if you are really there  and

want me to follow  you- show me!’  And it was then, sitting on the bed in my hall of residence, that a Gospel reference popped  into my head. When I looked it up in my Bible, it was the Parable of the Sower.  Being a scientist, I needed a bit more evidence and asked again.This time  a different Gospel reference popped into  my head- and so I looked it up- and yes, you’ve guessed  it- the Parable of the Sower again. So now the data was begin to stack up and I knew I had to pay attention- to listen, to really listen!  Throughout my life, many had sown the seeds of the Gospel into my heart, it was now time  for me to decide  what sort  of soill was going to be. To say my ‘yes’ to God’s call to follow and be fruitful. I’m not sure it was a resounding ‘yes’, more like a ‘well ok then’, but as the gardeners amongst you will know, soil doesn’t get improved overnight. It takes a lot of hard work and nourishing before it yields a harvest. Neither does the hard work  stop there- it’s an ongoing process of digging, weeding and feeding!

So what about you- which  bits of the parable  might God be wanting to underline for you just now?  What’s your soil like?  Stony? Shallow? Strangled by weeds?  Was it once rich, but is now a bit exhausted; only producing stunted growth? What might you do about? And do you want

to do anything about it?!

May be it’s not your soil God wants you to think  about but your sowing.Do you hoard your seed?  Sow it sparingly? Plant it in neat rows,in only what you consider to be fertile soil?  Or do you lavishly scatter it about leaving it up to God and his grace to produce the harvest­ taking the risk that it might be eaten by birds or fall onto  stony ground?

As a Diocese we have been encouraging one another to be ‘Renewed, Released and

Rejuvenated’:

  • Renewed in our faith through reliance on the Spirit in prayer and worship
  • Released into mission and to live as Lights for Christ in our everyday lives
  • Rejuvenated by being fruitful, leading to new life and growth in our churches

 

It seems to me that  the Parable of the Sower really strikes a chord  for us at this time. So this week, why not find the space to mull it over a bit more- it might be helpful to imagine yourself in the story, as if hearing it for the first time,talking to others about its meaning- what new insights come to mind?  Or try reading it slowly each day- savouring its words and praying through what God might  particularly want to speak to you about. And if you don’t already, daily use the Diocesan prayer- its word could have been written to sit alongside the Parable of the Sower! Let’s finish by saying it together.

Living  God

Jesus calls his followers to seek first your kingdom

Renew us as we make your love known; Release us to share freely together in mission; And Rejuvenate us to be fruitful in your service. Give us courage, wisdom and compassion,

That strengthened with the grace of the Holy Spirit, we may, as the Diocese of

Sheffield, both flourish and grow through Christ our Lord. Amen

Witness

Prayers of Intercession

God of all seeds and all stories,
we pray for the wisdom to apply the truth of Jesus’ parables
to our own lives
and to our life together in this place where we worship you
and this community where we serve you.
May we see you, may we hear you, may we know you care.

In the world, we pray especially
for places where climate change has brought drought…
for the places where it has brought floods …
for those whose crops have been scorched…
for those whose livelihoods have been washed away.
We pray for the people of Japan –
for those caught in the heavy rains there –
and for the people of Australia
and their wildlife endangered by the forest fires.
We pray too for those in our own country
who face continual upheaval and heartache through repeated flooding.
May we see you, may we hear you, may we know you care.

We pray for those whose life’s seeds
are being choked by anxiety, poverty and hardship…
for those who have lost their jobs…
for those unable to feed their families
or to pay their mortgages and rent…
for those living without basic facilities.
We pray for those given hope by the emergency budget
and for those who feel hope-less
and for foodbanks and charities that try to help all who are struggling.
May we see you, may we hear you, may we know you care.

We pray for those unable to thrive because of illness…
and those denied the opportunity
to plant the seeds of their dreams in fertile soil…
for those hospitalised with Covid-19…
for those whose journey to recovery is long , slow and painful…
for those who nurse them…
for those who love them…
for those whose treatment has been put on hold…
We pray for those robbed of the opportunity to go to school,
for children in war zones, those in refugee camps,
those who have to work to find their daily food.
May we see you, may we hear you, may we know you care.

And we pray for those whose seeds are watered by their tears…
those grieving the loss of someone close to them…
those who feel forgotten…
those who are neglected…
those who are victims of injustice, abuse, or cruelty…
May they – and all in any kind of need today – see you, may they hear you,
and may know you care. Amen.

© ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2020.

Reproduced with permission.

The Lord’s prayer

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.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

Amen.

Community

The community of S17 has drawn together during these unusual times in a very special way. This is reflected in the great work of the S17 COVID-19 Community Support group.

The group aims to support those in the community who may be in need and to provide a support network to the S17 community at this time.

“If there are needy people in our community let’s ensure we help them out with things like bringing shopping to their door.”

The Wardens of All Saints Totley have been producing regular newsletters with helpful links, thoughts and resources. The latest of these is here.

We have also started to add resources for the younger members of our church, to add to this virtual service. They can be found here, and here.

Blessing and Dismissal

So as you step into this new week,
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing;
And the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be with you all and all whom you love this day.

Amen

Reminder

If you have any feedback on this service or any other ideas, suggestions or contributions, for future services please do send these to comments@allsaintstotley.church