Sixth Sunday after Trinity

 

SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY

Readings:

Genesis 28:10-19

Psalm 91

Romans 8:12-25

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

 

Collect

Merciful God,

you have prepared for those who love you

such good things as pass our understanding:

pour into our hearts such love toward you

that we, loving you in all things and above all things,

may obtain your promises,

which exceed all that we can desire;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Today, we are still in Chapter 13 of the Gospel of Matthew – a chapter that focuses on teaching, by the way of parables, about the Kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is shown to have two priorities before his passion:

Teaching people about the kingdom

and

Healing the sick

In this way, the healing accounts become like sort of visual aids – outward signs that demonstrate the meaning of the words and the stories.

All works together to help us begin to get a grasp of what this kingdom is and what it means – this kingdom, so often found to be an upside-down kingdom when viewed from our limited perspectives.

So, as we saw last week, we seek to listen, to hear and to receive in a way that takes us beyond our understanding and deeper into mystery.

For this is not a matter of knowledge, but of experience and so of faith (trust).

A question that helps me to firstly listen to these parables is to ask myself:

t do you think the people of the land who first listened to this parable of the kingdom would have heard?

In this way, the story becomes more immediate and more alive.

So, let us take a look at today’s parable.

Let me tell you another story, says Jesus, to show you more of what the way of God is like.

It is like a man who sows good seed in his field but then one night, while everyone is asleep, an enemy comes and sows the weed, darnel, in among the wheat and then the enemy goes away.

Darnel is very similar in appearance to wheat and can only be easily identified when it is ripe and the wheat changes colour. Also, the darnel roots tend to get intertwined with the wheat roots so pulling up the darnel before the wheat is ripe will also pull up the not yet ready wheat.

So, weeds have been planted in with the wheat without anyone knowing. Only as it starts to grow, do the man’s servants realise that darnel is mixed in with the wheat.

What do they do?

Firstly, they look to him to explain.

You told us you had sown good seed in the field, so where have the weeds come from?

Should we find out how this happened?

Should we go and pull out the weeds, or re-plant the wheat?

 

We have so many questions when something bad happens,

or we feel wronged, or threatened.

Sometimes, the answer we seek is the one

that is the most difficult for us to accept:

Do nothing. Wait on the story.

The reading from Genesis tells the story of Jacob coming to the end of his strength. He is fleeing from his brother, Esau’s, murderous threats. He has left his home and his family, and now, he is facing an uncertain future in Haran.

The promise of God to Abraham and his descendants is in jeopardy.

He lies down to sleep and as he dreams, he sees a ladder that reaches from earth to heaven and he sees angels ascending and descending on it.

Angels are messengers of God and Jacob’s vision was followed by a theophany, that is, an experience of the presence of God, as God spoke to him.

Messengers are also harbingers, as they announce the approaching presence of someone. There is also the sense of them smoothing the way ahead, as in the traditional role of a harbinger as one who went ahead of an army to find and sort out its lodgings.

All this is very apparent in the reading as we see the angels announcing and preparing Jacob for the approach of God and so the presence of angels becomes synonymous with the presence of God.

There is another hint in the reading about the role of angels.

Jacob in the story is at a critical moment in his life when he has this experience of God heralded by angels.

In effect, he has reached a crisis in his life – a critical moment, a rite of passage, maybe, and as he encounters God, he has his moment of truth.

Here, we meet the tradition that the angels come to those who have reached the end of their resources.

Think of the angels ministering to Jesus in the desert, or in Gethsemene.

They come, as they do in Jacob’s case, to encourage and sustain the weary traveller.

As the psalmist says,

‘God will command the great angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.’ (Psalm 91)

Jacob awoke to find that his despair of the previous night had been replaced by awe and wonder and a renewed sense of hope and purpose prevailed.

The promise has been renewed and all is well again.

‘This is an awesome place’, he declares, ‘it is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven!’

Discovering that the wheat had been contaminated was a cause of despair for the master’s servants, as all seemed lost.

The master, however, urged patience and restraint:  To rush in now will only make matters worse.

 

Let us pray:

When fear comes, pause. . .

Say what you are afraid of. . .

Feel the fear . . .

Take time. . .

Then the barrier to trust will be lower,

the jump to be taken no longer paralysing.

Have courage. . .

The Presence is very close and very loving.

God of abundant mercy and love, we bring to you:

the cries that fall on stony ground,

the labour that is harsh and unrewarding,

the resources that, though needed, are snatched away too soon,

the burdens that weigh heavily and choke,

all that is unseen and unheard.

God of abundant mercy and love, we bring to you:

the wonder and beauty of creation,

the adventure and risks of life,

the journeys of discovery and renewal,

the beginnings and the endings in you,

all that we have seen and heard in our hearts.

O God grant us the serenity

to accept the things we cannot change,

courage to change the things we can,

and wisdom to know the difference.

                                                                             Reinhold Niebuhr

                                             

 

 

 

Here is a prayer you could say, with Shere parish, joining in with them as they light a candle on Sunday evenings:

As I light this candle:

Creator God, surround my home with the warmth of your love.

Fire of the Spirit, burn within me.

Light of Christ, shine from me. Amen.

 

The sacred Three be over me, the blessing of the Trinity.
Keep protection near, and danger afar.
Keep hope within, keep doubt without.
The sacred Three encircle me, the blessing of the Trinity.
Keep peace within, keep evil out.
Keep light near, and darkness afar.
The sacred Three indwelling me, the blessing of the Trinity.
Amen

 

Merciful Father,

accept these and all our prayers

for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

THE PEACE

Nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.  Amen.

 

THE BLESSING

The love of God enfold you,

the power of Christ protect you,

the leading of the Spirit guide you;

and the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always.  Amen.

 

Stephanie Sokolowski            19/7/20

 

Please note that the above is not referenced.

It is sent to congregation members for personal use only!