Grace and peace to you from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
COLLECT FOR PURITY
to whom all hearts be open
all desires known
and from whom no secrets are hidden;
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you
and worthily magnify your holy name
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
SUMMARY OF THE LAW
Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”
The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. Amen. Lord, have mercy.
God is love and we are God’s children.
There is no room for fear in love.
We love because God loved us first.
Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.
God our Father, we confess to you
and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ
that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,
and in what we have failed to do.
We are truly sorry.
Forgive us our sins,
and deliver us from the power of evil,
for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.
sung by Sue St Joseph
whose providence orders all things in heaven and earth;
keep from us everything harmful,
and lead us to all that is good:
through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end.
Genesis 29:15-28 read by Andrew Ratnam
Jacob Marries Laban’s Daughters
Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was graceful and beautiful. Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” So, Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.
Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go to her, for my time is completed.” So, Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. But in the evening, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.) When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” Laban said, “This is not done in our country—giving the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” Jacob did so and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife.
Romans 8: 26-39 read by Simon Lidwell
Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with groanings too deep for words. And God, who searches hearts, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
God’s Love in Christ Jesus
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son but gave him up for all of us, how will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ who died, or rather, who was raised, who is also at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than victorious through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52 read by Rev Janice Aiton
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Matthew chapter 13 beginning at verse 31
Glory to Christ our Saviour.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
The Parable of the Yeast
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and reburied; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So, it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Treasures New and Old
“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel
Praise to Christ our Lord
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.”
Treasure –the search for wealth has been something that people have been looking for since the dawn of time. In bygone days they searched in the fields, in the hills, under the sea… if only they could find gold or diamonds or pearls, then they would be happy. Today the search continues -people are still looking for treasure, except they now look for it in the lottery, the casino, the stock market or scratch cards… if only they could hit the jackpot, all their troubles would be over.
There was a poor tailor who lived in Krakow. He was a very pious man. One night he had a dream in which a voice said to him’ if you go to Prague and dig beneath a certain tree behind the emperor’s castle you will find treasure. Since the poor man placed great trust in his dreams, he set out the very next day for Prague. However, when he got there, he found that the castle was guarded. Unable to get across the draw bridge, he lived under it for a while. While there he became friends with the captain of the guard. One day he shared his story with him. He said,
‘I had a dream that if I got into the castle grounds and went to a certain tree and dug there, I would find treasure. You’re a very foolish man, said the captain. You shouldn’t believe that sort of thing. I have dreams myself. Once I had a dream that over in Krakow there lived a poor but wise tailor, not unlike yourself. I dreamt that if I went to his house, and dug behind the stove, I would find a treasure that someone had buried there a long time ago. Of course, I dismissed it as foolishness. The tailor thanked him, went back home, dug behind his own hearth and found the treasure. The treasure was right beside him all that time and he did not know it. We too have treasure within us and we do not know it. We have the treasure of our worth, of our identity as children of a king, as sons and daughters of God and heirs with Christ. This treasure is so precious; it is worth more than any real wealth. It is a treasure that never rusts or fades; it is a treasure that is an eternal gift to us. This eternal gift gives us a sense of who we are, and where we are going. No other treasure will satisfy us fully – only this treasure, that God gives, does.
Many think that winning the lottery – that treasure will satisfy but rarely is that the case. Jane Park, who won £1m at the age of 17, said winning the windfall had “ruined” her life and she often thought things would have been better if she had never won. Ms Park, now 21, argued that someone of her age should not have been allowed to win such a substantial sum of money. She said she had become bored of relentless consumption and felt like it failed to offer long-term genuine happiness. Before winning the lottery, Ms Park, who now owns two properties, worked as an admin temp for £8 an hour and lived in a small flat with her mum in Edinburgh. “I thought it would make it 10 times better but it’s made it 10 times worse. I wish I had no money most days. I say to myself, ‘My life would be so much easier if I hadn’t won’,” she told the Sunday People. People look at me and think, ‘I wish I had her lifestyle, I wish I had her money.’ But they don’t realise the extent of my stress. I have material things but apart from that my life is empty. What is my purpose in life?”
Her purpose in life is to find the treasure that lasts- the treasure that is God given. The treasure that will give her identity and security in Christ- the treasure that will reveal a great plan that God has for her- a plan not to harm her but to prosper her in the right way. Only with this new treasure in God will the emptiness she experiences go away and a deep inner joy come instead. So, wealth is not the be all and end all in our society- we cannot take it with us when we die- but we can take the wealth of our relationship with Christ with us.
Wealth and treasure have filled the mind of many a person, and great books have been written on that theme. As a child, my cousin’s favourite book was Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.” He read “Treasure Island” a dozen times. Of course, he identified with Jim, the kid in the story. But thinking back, he really loved the adults in “Treasure Island” because he didn’t know any adults like the ones who lived on Treasure Island, who staked all, risked everything, for nothing more than some map scrawled on a piece of paper.
The adults he knew stayed home, kept their heads down, went to work in the morning and then they came back again in the evening. But in “Treasure Island,” they risked, they lied if needed, and they had great lives and exciting deaths. In this gospel reading, Jesus says a kingdom belongs to those like Jim in the story of Treasure Island who stake everything on the treasure- the pearl of great price. To stake all for the pearl of great price is wisdom.
Wisdom is another precious God -given gift, that a person can have. Without it all other things are useless because we do not know how to use them. On being told that Solomon could have anything he wanted from God he asked for wisdom. God was pleased with his request and granted it to him.
However, this did not mean that wisdom was handed to Solomon on a plate so to speak- that rarely if ever happens. Wisdom is not acquired overnight. If acquired at all, it is acquired gradually and often painfully. It is the work of a life- time. Wisdom is like dew; it comes in tiny droplets without our knowing it. However, there are some experiences which enable us to take great strides forward in our wisdom learning. Strangely enough it is often a crisis that widens our grasp of wisdom.
Once there was a teacher who desired to make progress in his career and to climb the social ladder. He worked very hard. In fact, his work was his life. He put his best hours and best efforts into his work. He had little time to appreciate family and even less for the enjoyment of life. It was clear to everyone where his treasure lay. But then he had a heart attack. He was taken to hospital where he lay for days, drifting in and out of consciousness. During moments of lucidity, he saw these shadowy figures by his bedside. One day these figures came into focus, and he immediately recognised them-they were his wife and children- in that moment he saw that his treasure lay in his family. He saw how foolish he had been and prayed to the Lord to give him his life back and he would be happy. His prayer was answered. He left the hospital and changed his priorities. He decided to focus more on others than his work and became wiser and happier. He found that he was looking for happiness or rather treasure in the wrong place.
Jesus says where your treasure is there will be your heart also. So, if you want to know what your treasure is, all we have to do is ask ourselves where your heart is? What is it that we love that we pursue with all our hearts? There lies our treasure. Of course, we may try to have it both ways- keep friends with God and friends with wealth or work. However, what we are looking for says Jesus cannot be found in material things. Riches as we heard from Jane, the lottery winner bring anxiety, whereas seeking our treasure in God brings wisdom and peace of mind.
The wisdom we are talking about here is not the same as worldly wisdom. It is something deeper and much more precious. It means knowing what is truly important in life. It means being able to see from God’s point of view and being able to live the way God wants us to live. Wisdom is not the same as knowledge. Unlike knowledge, which is acquired through hard work, wisdom is a gift from God. Wisdom is like a pearl of great price. Through the gift of wisdom God communicates to us the meaning of life.
Pearls are product of pain and suffering. Tormented by some foreign matter against its soft flesh, the oyster responds by embracing the irritant and transforming it into an object of great beauty. The creation of the pearl not only provides relief to the oyster but is also a source of wonder and pleasure to many others.
It is not possible to go through life without suffering. Sometimes, suffering is of our own making but more than often suffering occurs for no obvious or apparent reason. Whatever the cause of this suffering is, we are left feeling hopeless. We think that all is lost and that nothing can be salvaged. In our despair we believe that everything has gone down the swanny and is irretrievably lost. As a result, we fall prey to feelings of self- pity, and doubt. We begin to doubt ourselves, and to doubt God.
In our Romans reading, no guarantee is given that our suffering will be removed, but rather we are reminded that God is more than capable of bringing something good out of our suffering for God works together for good for those who love him.
There is a story about a king who owned a very valuable diamond. One day an accident happened, and the diamond got deeply scratched. The king consulted the experts to see if anything could be done to save the diamond, but they told him that even if they were to polish it, they would never be able to repair the wound it had suffered. So, the king locked up the diamond in his vault where it lay hidden and useless for years.
Then one day a famous diamond cutter arrived in the capital. At the king’s invitation he undertook to examine the diamond to see if anything could be done with it. After examining it closely he said ‘Your Majesty I will make the diamond look more beautiful than it was before the accident. Bringing all his artistry to bear on it, he proceeded to engrave a beautiful rose on the diamond, using the deep scratch as the stem of the rose. When the king saw what he had done he was filled with admiration. He took the diamond’s fault and transformed it into something beautiful. In the same way God can take our brokenness and bring healing; God can transform our worst misfortune and create something positive and good; God can take our deep pain and anguish and provide for us and gives us strength and hope.
These short parables today about the kingdom of God being like a hidden treasure and a pearl of great price speaks to us about three ‘w’ s- our wealth, our wisdom, and our wounds. Our wealth is in our identity in Christ, our wisdom is a God- given gift, and our wounds are transformed by Christ into something beautiful. So may we seek our treasure in Christ and stake everything we have in him- the giver of all good gifts. Amen
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one substance with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.
With the Father and the Son,
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Knowing that our loving God
supplies all our needs
let us pray to him now
on behalf of the church and the world.
you choose to work your purpose and love
through us the church, your holy body.
help us to reflect your generosity
and to be your hands of love and care to others.
give us our daily bread
you never gave up or abandoned your people
but met them at their physical and spiritual points of need.
may we not forget or ignore those in difficulty
but generously help them
in whatever ways we can.
give us our daily bread
Generous God, you have blessed us with many gifts
and we thank –you especially for the gift
of education and technology.
We are grateful for the benefits they bring to our lives
and as we read and watch the news
help us to take to heart,
those struggling in different parts of the world,
and we lift them to you in prayer.
We pray for the Middle East with all its internal turmoil
and ask for cessation of hostilities in Ukraine and Sudan.
We lift to you in the quiet-
the broken and damaged countries
and communities in our world,
thinking particularly of Greece and Spain with the soaring heat
and the fires that have caused great devastation.
give us our daily bread
we offer to you our homes and relationships
for you to generously work in and transform.
We offer you our meetings and conflicts
and ask that your will is done
and your love and kindness prevail.
give us our daily bread
Generous God, we lift to you all
all who suffer or are heavily burdened;
hear us as we pray for their comfort and refreshment,
wholeness and restoration,
but above all for the consciousness
of your presence in their pain and your love for them.
In the quiet of our hearts,
we bring to you people known to us,
and ask for your holy touch and healing.
give us our daily bread
Generous God, you call all in faith to yourself,
be especially close to those
who are coming to the end of their earthly lives.
Prepare them for the heavenly place
you have for them,
and be with their families,
as they reluctantly let them come to you.
Give to all a holy death and a heavenly welcome.
give us our daily bread
Generous God, in
whom we live and have our being,
fills us with gratitude for all we have,
and help us to count our blessings
and give you our praise.
Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together
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.
Do not bring us to the time of trial
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.
The peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord:
and the blessing of God the Father,
the Son and Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen
Go or stay in peace to love and serve the Lord. In the name of Christ.