Sunday 12th July
Welcome to our service from Colwyn Benefice, mid Wales
Our Bible Readings – other Bible translations are on Bible Gateway
Psalm 65: 1-13 (GNT)
O God, it is right for us to praise you in Zion and keep our promises to you, because you answer prayers. People everywhere will come to you on account of their sins. Our faults defeat us, but you forgive them. Happy are those whom you choose, whom you bring to live in your sanctuary. We shall be satisfied with the good things of your house, the blessings of your sacred Temple. You answer us by giving us victory, and you do wonderful things to save us. People all over the world and across the distant seas trust in you.
You set the mountains in place by your strength, showing your mighty power. You calm the roar of the seas and the noise of the waves; you calm the uproar of the peoples.
The whole world stands in awe of the great things that you have done. Your deeds bring shouts of joy from one end of the earth to the other.
You show your care for the land by sending rain; you make it rich and fertile.
You fill the streams with water; you provide the earth with crops. This is how you do it: you send abundant rain on the plowed fields and soak them with water; you soften the soil with showers and cause the young plants to grow. What a rich harvest your goodness provides! Wherever you go there is plenty. The pastures are filled with flocks; the hillsides are full of joy. The fields are covered with sheep; the valleys are full of wheat.
Isaiah 55: 10-13 (NIV)
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.”
Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23 (NIV)
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around 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.”
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 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. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 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. 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. 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.”
Romans 8: 1-11 (NIV)
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sinand death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Rise and Hear! The Lord is Speaking
Lord Christ Who On Thy Heart Didst Bear The Burden of Our Sin
Heavenly Father, we have sinned in thought, word and deed, and have failed to do what we ought to have done. We are sorry and truly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ who died for us, forgive us all that is past and lead us in his way to walk as children of light. Amen
Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy on us and set us free from sin, strengthen us in goodness and keep us in eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, Almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with then Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
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
AN AFFIRMATION OF THE FAITH
You are invited to profess the Christian Faith
Do you believe and trust in God the Father, source of all being and life, the one for whom we exist?
We believe and trust in him.
Do you believe and trust in God the Son, who took our human nature, died for us and rose again?
We believe and trust in him.
Do you believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God and makes Christ known in the world?
We believe and trust in him.
This is the faith of the Church.
This is our faith. We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen
In our lockdown a lot of people have turned to gardening as a way of keeping themselves busy. Even I’ve turned to helping John in our garden and I’m not green fingered like he is! This got me thinking that for those of us who grow things, whether in a window box, allotment, field or garden, we need to nourish the soil in order for plants to flourish. We dose the small potted plant with liquid feed, we replenish the soil in our window box, we hump compost onto the allotment and fertilise the fields. We know that however good the quality of seed, a rich harvest cannot be achieved without the hard work of making sure that the soil is good to sow and grow plants.
In Jesus’ day, sowing seed was haphazard. Weeds, most commonly a kind of thorn, weren’t cleared first, but ploughed into the ground. The paths through the fields became hard like roads and because they didn’t have seed drills the seeds were broadcasted everywhere, including paths and edges and headlands where the underlying, predominantly limestone, rock came near the surface and made the soil very thin.
To his listeners, Jesus’ description would have been instantly recognisable. He was illustrating his teaching with everyday events, through the language of work, of weather, of nature. Jesus knew that if he spoke in the dry language of the priests, of the Temple or synagogue, the people wouldn’t hear what he had to say. After all, Jesus was a country boy and much of his teaching involved the use of symbols taken from nature; he spoke the people’s own kind of language and so they listened to him.
It’s easy to become distracted when people speak in a way which doesn’t relate to us, to our needs and our lives, to listen but not to absorb what is said, to miss the crucial heart of a message, which is what happened to many of Jesus’ listeners. Some listened but didn’t want to know. Some heard but didn’t understand. Some listened and heard but were too frightened of the challenge to respond.
Jesus prepared the ground in the way in which a person of the earth would do, with symbols which spoke to the experience and hearts of his listeners. He valued each person in the crowd and when we value someone we take the trouble to approach them at their own level.
The harvest of response we reap is worth every moment of effort. And so, what of us? Do we frequently fail to listen to one another, let alone to Jesus? Do we avert our eyes, use distracted sounds like, ‘mmm’? Interrupting them and not allowing them to finish what they are saying. Do we listen, really listen to what people have to say? How often have we phoned someone and know by the sound in the background, that the television or the radio is claiming half their attention? And how often do we ask people how they are because of social convention rather than wanting the truth and the detail of their answer? If someone is listening to us attentively, we feel valued. When someone speaks to us in our own language it feeds and enhances the person that we are, making us grow in confidence and self-worth.
This is how Jesus listens to us and how we need to listen to him by regularly reading his word – the Bible – and in our prayers. He also speaks to us through others. By caring we nurture the seed of his love which develops and grows into a part of his great harvest.
However, if our soil is thin, what do we do? How do we compost it? By reading our Bible; talking to God in prayer, asking for enlightenment and wisdom; by a good deed, a kind word; sincere regret for weaknesses; not by heavy and self-admiring penances, but by paying close attention to the ordinary events of our daily lives; by being fully present to each person, hearing their spoken and unspoken needs.
Our compost involves facing and not avoiding life’s unpalatable aspects for fear of them troubling us; it involves rising to the challenge of being fully human in the way in which Jesus made transparently clear. This is the spiritual fertilisation given by God. When we accept it, it nourishes the life of God within us.
God is with us in the great and in the minute events of our lives. He speaks to us in gentle tones and in language we understand. All we have to do is listen to him and what he has to tell us. After all, he’s the sower, the seed and the food for growth.