Twenty First Sunday after Trinity – October 24th 2021

Welcome

Opening Prayer

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

Worship

Gathering Prayer

Let us come together to be still,
to be known, loved, and held by God our creator,
to be thankful for all that God gives us,
to be healed and restored,
that in our worship today
joy and gladness may refresh and renew us.

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Prayer of Confession

Lord, you are Lord of creation and the giver of all good gifts; forgive our hoarding and fearfulness.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

You provide enough for our needs and the needs of others; forgive our lack of trust in you.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

You bless the generosity of your people; forgive our lack of faith. Release in us a new freedom and an outpouring of praise and thanksgiving to you.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and keep us in eternal life.
Amen.

© Copyright 2002-2021, Giving in Grace.

 

Collect – The prayer for today

God our Father, in love you are always giving to us; you gave life in creation and hope to your people Israel; you have given us all things in Jesus and your presence among us through the gift of your Holy Spirit.

Open our hearts to enjoy all you have given and our hands to share generously of what is yours; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

© Copyright 2002-2021, Giving in Grace.

Word

Generosity Encouraged

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
    their righteousness endures forever.”[a]

10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

2 Corinthians
9:6-15

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 grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

Mark
4:26-29

2 Corinthians 9:6-15

2 Cor 8 and 9, as Neil reminded us last week, are all about sharing in the Christian community – specifically churches supporting each other and providing for each other’s needs. This is a specific example of the general principal of the second greatest commandment (Matt 22:39); “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” – at its core, it comes down the heart.

 

In our reading today we have particular exhortations to generosity, having spoken in the verses last week about the collections in Corinth and Macedonia for the Church in Jerusalem. This reasoning is following on from the more practical comments Paul has already made.

 

Paul’s reasons to give cheerfully and generously are bound up in three connected ideas that he draws together in our verses today.

 

First – we are to be aligned to the will of God. Because God gives, because of the example we have in Jesus, because of the needs we see and because of our regenerated moral alignment by the Spirit of God. Our hearts are to be freely overflowing generously to all those around us.

 

Second – God gives abundantly, in all ways. God has a great father-heart of love for humanity as part of his creation and wishes to lavish that upon us.

 

Thirdly – if we grasp that, the process of abundant giving and the blessings that means for all involved become a positive feedback loop of greater abundance and greater blessing.

 

Giving – The Heart

 

So let’s unpack some of the thinking in these verses – as, typically Pauline, there are interwoven layers and allusions to OT writings and traditions. That’s where we start in v6: Paul starts with allusion to proverbs, with this agricultural metaphor of sowing.

 

Proverbs 11:24-25 (English Standard Version)

24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
    another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
25 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
    and one who waters will himself be watered.

 

The point, says Paul, is this. Sow bountifully, and you will reap bountifully. Giving freely, caring and looking after those around will ensure that the giver themselves are enriched. What is being drawn out here is the thought of abundance. We’ll look deeper at what that enriching and richness is shortly, but first in v7 Paul re-iterates that this is a matter of the heart.

 

Here Paul is using ‘heart’ to refer to the ‘will’, the ‘volition’, or ‘intent’. But by choosing that overloaded term ‘heart’, he carries with it connotations of the moral and spiritual implications of giving or withholding. This giving must be free and chosen – not a God tax, as Neil termed it last week. It is the cheerful giver that God is interested in – or perhaps better the gracious giver. (hilaros in Koine Greek papyri is used synonymously with hileōs [happy/mercy] – see also Rom 12:8) – and this goes hand-in-hand with last week’s principle of giving according to what a person has (8:12).

 

How can we give graciously, happily and cheerfully? Paul answers in verses 8 and 9. He uses a formulation here ‘God is able’ (Rom 16:25; Eph 3:20; Jude 24). The one who is able to do far more than we can ask or think is the one that will give us all we need to be ‘sufficient’, or self content. The abundance of God’s grace and provision is spelled out in the sentence itself – all grace, for all contentment, in all things, at all times so that the believer may give of their resources to support the ‘good work’ – or better, the causes of Christ and His Church.

 

Giving – The Source

 

Paul then quotes from Isaiah (Isa 55:10) and Hosea (Hosea 10:12) in v10. The overarching theme of their source passages is the idea of God’s ownership of creation, and therefore provision of all things. What follows alongside that that concept is the transitory nature of what a believer has. If God is the ultimate source, and is the giver of all that a believer has, at best what we have received we are simply stewarding. Essentially, what we have is not our own, it isn’t from our own skills or ability. It all comes from God.

 

This idea is one that is worth exploring for a moment. We, especially us in the western world, and especially where we live are taught by the world to value our houses and our cars, the material and present. We are used to owning and to having – Neil last week mentioned some of the things we own, use and attribute value to, that we seek to afford through work and acquisition. The gas, electricity, water, and food for our homes. The credit cards we have, the phones and broadband connections, our entertainment and streaming service subscriptions, sports club membership, etc. We are used to these things and almost expect to have them – and to do that we work hard at school, we get skills and educations and seek to get worthwhile jobs with prospects and a future. All of these things we seek to do to ensure we have enough, that we can look after ourselves and our loved ones. In different ways we all seek to gain, and to protect – drawing from the resources and things available to humanity to make sure that we will be okay, that we can help those around us and give to the Church.

 

But what if this is not a zero-sum game? What if we really grasp what this concept of God as an abundant creator and what it frees us up to see? The one who supplies wishes to do so lavishly, so that the believer is free to give lavishly and to therefore be a source of blessing and be blessed themselves. What we have is not really ours to own, and so we should be encouraged to give it freely?

 

This kind of thinking also serves to re-centre our value system. Instead of our sense of value and worth being found in what we have and can do, this centering of God as the source re-aligns us in terms of His plan and vision. What we are in relation to God and one another becomes the centre, becomes what we value and treasure and seek after.

 

That leads to the enriching of v 11 – and coming back to the righteousness we touched on before. In verse 9, Paul is quoting from Psalm 112:9. This OT passage came to be understood to refer to the Jewish weekly practice of giving alms at the synagogue for the poor. The idea of righteousness here, in relation to the actions of the giver, don’t indicate an innate goodness in the actions themselves, but instead reflect blessing in God-inspired giving. This blessing and enriching is not simply meant in the physical and material sense of blessings, but in the totality of all that we are. God will supply all that we need in order for us to be lavishly generous as he is and by doing that generate an atmosphere of love and appreciation that reflect his character and bring him glory. We give generously, not expecting reward, but knowing that God will use what we have given and turn it back to further enrich all around us. The Christian giver is a channel of God’s provision.

 

Giving – The Result

 

In the last verses of our reading v12-14 Paul then brings attention back to the gift to the Church in Jerusalem and uses that as an example of the mutual enriching, blessing and honouring of God that comes with the attitude of giving described.

 

Paul explains that this work of giving isn’t just to supply the material, immediate and real needs of the church in Jerusalem – those things that they were lacking – but was leading to believers in Jerusalem and the wider Palestine to give thanks for the concern and sacrificial help of the Gentile churches.

 

The practical and observable characteristic of the faith of the Gentile church was their contribution to the church at Jerusalem. Their confession of Christ was their liberal giving, they were obeying the directive of a changed heart – motivated by love for God, for Christ, for the Kingdom and for others.

 

In response the church at Jerusalem would hold up the Gentile churches in thankful prayer because of their gifts and generosity.

 

Conclusion

 

And so – Paul finishes with a thanks to God, for his all-surpassing gift in Christ. A reminder to the church at Corinth: a reminder of perspective, of their own dependence on God and on the nature of this indescribable, inexhaustible and in many ways unknowable gift.

 

Paul has exhorted to generosity, and in our passage today expands his reasoning. Paul’s reasons to give cheerfully and generously are bound up in these three connected ideas that we have scratched at today:

 

First – we are to be aligned with the will of God. Because God gives, because of the example we have in Jesus, because of the needs we see and because of our regenerated moral alignment by the Spirit of God. Our hearts are to be freely overflowing generously to all those around us. Second – God gives abundantly, in all ways. God has a great father-heart of love for humanity as part of his creation and wishes to lavish that upon us. Thirdly – if we grasp that, the process of abundant giving and the blessings that means for all involved become a positive feedback loop of greater abundance and greater blessing.

 

How can we make sure our hearts are overflowing generously?

How can we further open our eyes to Gods great provision?

What are the causes of Christ and His Church that make us want to give cheerfully?

To re-iterate Neil’s question from last week – How do we and will we respond to God’s provision for us?

 

Witness

Statement of Faith

Let us declare our faith in God. 

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.

The Lord is here.

His Spirit is with us.

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

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
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:

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.
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.
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.
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.
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:

Blessing and honour and glory and power
be yours for ever and ever.
Amen.
 
The Lord’s Prayer
 
As our Saviour taught us, so we pray
 
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.

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

As the president consumes

The body of Christ broken for us all
Amen

The blood of Christ shed for us all
Amen

Prayer after Communion
 
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