Second Sunday after Trinity – June 13th 2021

Welcome

Good Morning and welcome to you all whether you are joining with us online or here in the building with us.

Grace, mercy and peace
from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ
be with you
and also with you

Call to Worship

Here we are, Creator God, Lord and Spirit,
standing before you, grounded on the earth,
our hands stretched high like a tree.
You fill us with amazement, wonderful God. Amen.

Worship

Confession

God our Father,
we come to you in sorrow for our sins.

For turning away from you,
and ignoring your will for our lives;
Father, forgive us:
save us and help us.

For behaving just as we wish,
without thinking of you;
Father, forgive us:
save us and help us.

For failing you by what we do,
and think and say;
Father, forgive us:
save us and help us.

For letting ourselves be drawn away from you
by temptations in the world about us;
Father, forgive us:
save us and help us.

For living as if we were ashamed
to belong to your Son;
Father, forgive us:
save us and help us.

Absolution

May the God of love
bring us back to himself,
forgive us our sins,
and assure us of his eternal love
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Collect

Lord, you have taught us
that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake.

Amen

Word

The parable of the growing seed

26 He also said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces corn – first the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 As soon as the corn is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.’

The parable of the mustard seed

30 Again he said, ‘What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.’

33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

Mark 4
26-34

A recording of the reflection will appear here after the service in church.

This is the first of a set of 2 refelctions you will get from me this month – I’ve got a break next week and then I’ll be back the week after to talk to you on our  Gift Day in 2 weeks time.  And although at first glance the 2 Sundays are completely different I hope, in a couple of weeks you’ll see a connection.

In our reading today we have Jesus once again trying to explain things to the disciples. They are just back from the occasion when Jesus told the parable of the sower – that was where Jesus started teaching by a lake but so many people turned up he had to jump in a boat and teach from it.

I’m sure you all remember the parable of the sower – the story of the farmer who sowed seeds on different kinds of ground. As Jesus tells the disciples when they are alone again later,  the seed represents the word of God, and the types of ground are the way we receive the good news.  Only the people that are represented by the fertile soil are the the ones that hear, understand and respond to the word.  The good news is that those seeds produce a crop many times what was actually sown.

Part of this same conversation where Jesus explains the parable of the sower to the disciples – – and the bit that happens right before todays passage – Is the famous ”Lamp on a Stand” message – the Let you  light shine message.  You don’t light a lamp, said Jesus, in order to hide it – you light a lamp to put it on a stand where it lights up a room. And he goes on to say that “whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open” IN other words, just because he taught in parables (a common story telling technique at the time) it is not done to hide the message. “If anyone has ears to hear let him hear” – in other words  – I want anyone who can understand this to understand it. Or perhaps more accurately, I want anyone who is willing to understand this to understand it.

And all this leads us to todays passage – Jesus is contuing to talk to his disciples.. he gives them 2 parables to describe the kingdom of God: Firstly in what the NIV calls the parable of the growing seed Jesus likens the kingdom to seeds scattered by a man – the seed grows on its own, whether the man is awake or asleep  – the seeds sprout and grow, all on their own – only when it is ripe does the man have to use his sickle to harvest what grows.

Secondly Jesus tells the disciples the parable of the mustard seed – Ali mentioned that last week – where Jesus says the Kingdom of god is like the mustard seed – one of the smallest seeds there is that can grow into such a large tree.

Our passage ends with a paragraph that really resonates with me:

It Says:

33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

Jesus basically taught them as much as they could take – but also in parables.  He didn’t tell them anything without using a parable but , and this is the bit that almost makes me jealous, when he was alone with the disciples he explained everything.

Can you imagine having Jesus sit down and EXPLAIN everything he taught to us – that would be amazing. And throughout history so many people have interpreted the Bible differently that to have Jesus actually spell out exactly what he meant, especially  with some of his more complicated parables, would be amazing, it would certainly save me having to stand here and say things like”Some think this means this, some think it means that” 

But I digress – I want to talk about these two tiny parables. Parables that tells us exactly what the Kingdom of God is like but also why God needs us in it.

The  first part of todays passage – The parable of the growing seed is sometimes called the parable of the secret growing seed to reflect the fact that the seed, like the kingdom, does much of its growing unseen.  Think about it – today we can get discouraged because we don’t see the results of what we do in church immeaditaly  – we are a 21st century people used to instant communication and doing things and seeing results now – not later.  As a church we have had a few years where what we have done has not necessarily shown in Totley becoming a national hotspot of revival.  Our finances are down, our attendance is down-  what we have sowed has not, on the surface shown much growth.  Totley is not yet a hotbed of Revivial.

But Jesus and his disciples spent 3 yrs criss crossing the regions of the holy land sowing the seed – but they barely saw any progress – no changes in the world around them, no sudden adoption of Christianity by the Romans. But they did understand that spreading the word starts small – going from person to person.

But ther are a couple of things in this first parable that should give us some hope.  Firstly the seed grows anyway once sown -it doesn’t matter if the man in the story is awake or a sleep, and he doesn’t understand how it happens – it still grows.  And secondly, the seed does not grow instantly  – in the parable the seed grows slowly, a whole growing season fo the seed to take root, and sprout and finally become the wheat that can be harvested.

In our own church we can plant the seed – we cant dictate which ones or how much of it grows (That happens unseen and is what God does, not what we do ) and it may be that the harvest here doesn’t come until long after we are gone.  The encouragement we should take from this parable is that the harvest will follow  – that there is a point to us doing what we do here in Totley

Farming has changed a lot since the days of these parables – whereas in the old days a farmer would scatter seed and hope for growth, just the right amount of rain and just the right amount of sun now a farmer can try and affect the outcome – he takes great care to sow his seeds at the right depth with his automatic drilling machine, he probably has an automated watering system that some scientist somewhere has calibrated for the particular variety of seed but even so the farmer of today still has to hope for good weather, still needs to wait and have patience , still can’t do much until his crops are ready.  That farmer, despite all the technology at his disposal, is still affected by things he cannot fully control.

This waiting to see the fruits of our labour can be frustrating – we do not live in a patient world – we are used to seeing  results now in everything we do.  And when we do not we can lose interest.  For those of you with a vague interest in Football you will know that now, in the era of big premier league money that in certain clubs if you are the manager and  don’t win a trophy or finish in a certain position in the league in your first year you may well be sacked – on the grounds that the money invested demands instant results.

I suppose it’s the same thing with the person who wants something now and is willing to get into debt to get it rather than save up – why should I wait if I can have it now? We certainly do live in what has been called the era of instant gratification.

These parables are trying to tell us that we need to look at the kingdom of God differently to everything else in our world. Patience is required to see the word develop – if indeed we will even be the ones to see it come to fruition. We need to stop stressing that nothing is happening, only God can and will make the seed grow in his own time.  It is God that does the work – he causes the seed to grow – and we don’t know how and that doesn’t matter – what matters is that he does.

But, if we don’t plant the seed at all then God can’t cause it to grow – if we give up because we can’t see the fruit of our labours there is no chance that there will ever be a thriving church in Totley.

But if we plant the seed we are planting massive potential.  The point of the parable of the mustard seed is that big things can grow from tiny seeds.  We are those tiny seeds. These two parables together tell us that the word does grow – once planted, maybe not instantly but it will grow and that one day God’s Kingdom will rule over the whole earth.  Probably not in our life time but that should not stop us wanting to help by plannting the seeds.  We don’t know how God works with the seeds we plant – just as the farmer in the first parable doesn’t – but we know that he does.  This is the nature of faith – we don’t know how a seed grows , not really, and how the Kingdom of God grows is a mystery in just the same way as is much of what we know about God.

I feel very much like this week these two parables are speaking to us directly about our situation in this church in Totley.  I have lost count of the number of meetings I have been at where we have bemoaned the lack of a full time vicar, or the imposition of another, or sadness at congregation leaving or whatever – and it is hard to not see things in this way, its much easier to look at the negatives – falling numbers, faliing incoming and so on.  I have done this just as much as anyone else.

However what these parables show us is that God can grow whatever we plant – every little thing we do here in this place can grow into something much bigger if that is what God wants – if those seeds fall on fertile ground he can use them to create something  brilliant.

And so I think we should see these parables as the encouraging words Jesus meant them to be. lets not be down on ourselves, lets keep chipping away at sharing our faith, at doing our best in this place, whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in, lets keep planting the seeds and lets be more confident that God will help them to grow.  And lets look forward to the harvest that will come, whenever that is.

Amen

Witness

Statement of Faith

Let us declare our faith in God.

All We believe in God the Father,
from whom every family
in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith,
and fills us with his love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens us
with power from on high.

We believe in one God;
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

Lets pray.  We are going to take a few moments in silence to remember whatever is on our hearts before I continue with our intercessions:

For the following intercessions the response is “transform them by your grace lord

Eternal, ever-present God, visible and yet invisible,
we bring our prayers for those we know
and those unknown to us.
We seek to journey with you and with them,
to support and uphold them with prayer and love.

For those who journey with illness and pain,
transform them by your grace, Lord.
For those searching for meaning and purpose,
transform them by your grace, Lord.
For those wanting to belong and yet seemingly
always on the edge,
transform them by your grace, Lord.
For those who lack confidence in themselves,
transform them by your grace, Lord.
For those who have no faith, no vision for an eternal future,
transform them by your grace, Lord.
For those who live with lies, secrets and untruths,
transform them by your grace, Lord.
For those who live without the very basic foundations of life:
without food and water and homes,
transform them by your grace, Lord.

By praying for these, we know that we must walk and work
hand in hand with you, to relieve their suffering and pain.
We trust our prayers, our loving and our living, to your
almighty and eternal presence.
Amen.

From Proper 6 2018

The Eucharistic Prayer

The Lord be with you
All and also with you.

(or)

The Lord is here.
His Spirit is with us.

Lift up your hearts.
All We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
All It is right to give thanks and praise.

Almighty God, good Father to us all,
your face is turned towards your world.
In love you gave us Jesus your Son
to rescue us from sin and death.
Your Word goes out to call us home
to the city where angels sing your praise.
We join with them in heaven’s song:

All Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

[Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.]

Father of all, we give you thanks for every gift that comes from heaven.

To the darkness Jesus came as your light.
With signs of faith and words of hope
he touched untouchables with love and washed the guilty clean.

This is his story.
All This is our song:
Hosanna in the highest.

The crowds came out to see your Son,
yet at the end they turned on him.
On the night he was betrayed
he came to table with his friends
to celebrate the freedom of your people.

This is his story.
All This is our song:
Hosanna in the highest.

Jesus blessed you, Father, for the food;
he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and said:
This is my body, given for you all.
Jesus then gave thanks for the wine;
he took the cup, gave it and said:
This is my blood, shed for you all
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this in remembrance of me.

This is our story.
All This is our song:
Hosanna in the highest.

Therefore, Father, with this bread and this cup
we celebrate the cross
on which he died to set us free.
Defying death he rose again
and is alive with you to plead for us and all the world.

This is our story.
All This is our song:
Hosanna in the highest.

Send your Spirit on us now

that by these gifts we may feed on Christ
with opened eyes and hearts on fire.

May we and all who share this food
offer ourselves to live for you
and be welcomed at your feast in heaven
where all creation worships you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit:

All Blessing and honour and glory and power
be yours for ever and ever.
Amen.

As our Saviour taught us so we pray:

The Lords 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.

Breaking of the Bread

The president breaks the consecrated bread.

We break this bread
to share in the body of Christ.

All Though we are many, we are one body,
because we all share in one bread.

Giving of Communion

The president says one of these invitations to communion

God’s holy gifts
for God’s holy people.

All Jesus Christ is holy,
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.


Prayer after Communion

All Almighty God,
we thank you for feeding us
with the body and blood of your Son Jesus Christ.
Through him we offer you our souls and bodies
to be a living sacrifice.
Send us out
in the power of your Spirit
to live and work
to your praise and glory.
Amen.

Blessing and dismissal

May the Father from whom every family
in earth and heaven receives its name
strengthen you with his Spirit in your inner being,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;
and the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always
Amen.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. 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.

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