SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST 11TH JUNE 2023
Let your loving kindness O Lord be upon us.
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.
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.
GLORIA sung by Billy Dewar Riddick
O Lord Jesus Christ,
in your mercy hear our prayers:
and as you give us the desire to pray,
grant us your help and protection;
through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen
FIRST READING Genesis 12:1-9 read by Amie Byers
The Call of Abram
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
So, Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot and all the possessions that they had gathered and the persons whom they had acquired in Haran, and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he moved on to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east, and there he built an altar to the Lord and invoked the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed on by stages toward the Negeb.
SECOND READING Romans 4:13-25 read by Gill Swales
God’s Promise Realized through Faith
For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law, neither is there transgression.
For this reason the promise depends on faith, in order that it may rest on grace, so that it may be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (who is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”), in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), and the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore “it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
GOSPEL READING Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26 read by Rev James Clark Maxwell
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Matthew chapter 9 beginning at verse 9
Glory to Christ our Saviour.
The Call of Matthew
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax-collection station, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.
And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed
While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from a flow of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that moment. When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. And the report of this spread through all of that district.
Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel
Praise to Christ our Lord
I remember, clearly, my institution here in St John’s in October 2017. The preacher on that occasion was Kelvin Holdsworth, the Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow. He had been asked by Bishop Gregor to preach at my institution and I recall him, telling me, Janice, I have not chosen these readings; they have been given to me. I did feel for him, for the readings were exceedingly short and difficult, and not the short of readings that preachers get excited about. I wondered how on earth he would deal with them. As you can imagine, he dealt very well with them- choosing the theme of blessing. Kelvin spoke of how God had called me to St John’s and how God would bless me and make me a blessing to others. To know God’s blessing is a wonderful gift and to be involved in pastoral ministry where we take God’s blessing to others is a privilege, and one in which I am often blessed by those I visit. Whatever role God has called us to, he blesses us and makes us a blessing to others. People might say to you from time to time “you are a blessing.” Blessing is a key theme in Scripture.
Blessing is at the heart of Abraham’s calling. He is called by God to be blessed and to be a blessing to others. Interestingly, both Abraham and Matthew’s calls come unexpectedly, like a bolt out of the blue. They were not deep in prayer or worship, but rather they were going about their normal daily routines. Both recognised God’s call and responded without hesitation and with great faith. Abraham had no idea where he was going. He did not know the name of the land promised to him. Nonetheless Abraham went out from his home, and from all he knew and travelled to a place that God said he would show him. Abraham waited, although not always patiently, for God to fulfil his promises to him- the promise of a son, although he and Sarah were old; the promise of many descendants, though Sarah’s womb was infertile; the promise of blessings upon blessings in a land that he would call his own, though the lands, that he wandered in, were occupied by people hostile to him and to God. All Abraham knew from God’s call was that God would bless him and make him a blessing to others. This knowledge of being blessed by God was all the encouragement and strength that Abraham needed. His faith was strong, and he trusted completely in God’s wisdom and guidance.
Likewise, Matthew had no idea what following Jesus fully entailed. He did not know his destination nor the places where he was going to live. Nonetheless, in response to Jesus’ call, in faith, Matthew left behind his lucrative business and all he had known to follow Jesus. Matthew was a tax collector who was in the eyes of the Jewish people, working for the enemy. He was responsible for getting money from his fellow Jews and giving it to the Roman Empire, and his own salary came from commission, motivating him to squeeze every penny he could from his own people. I don’t think it is an accident that in the gospel accounts the label “tax collector” is associated with sinner, as if they were interchangeable. That was the life Matthew lived- rejected by his own people and rejected by his faith and God. To say that Matthew was taken aback by Jesus’ call would be an understatement. Jesus chose Matthew and accepted him for who he was. Here was someone who did not reject or condemn Matthew but instead invited him to be a fellow sojourner on the kingdom road. This was an invitation Matthew could not refuse. It felt like a divine blessing and so he set off and embraced this new life.
Going out in faith is not always an easy thing to do. Our tendency is to want to stay put, to stay inside; inside our comfort zone; inside that which feels safe and to enjoy the blessings that being inside provide us with- the familiar, the warm, the fellowship of people we know and love. In the gospels we see Jesus move from his comfort, security, and power of being at the Father’s side to being among us, living out the gospel message, and bringing God’s blessing to so many.
God’s blessing enriched Abraham’s life. He was richly blessed, as over time God’s promises to him were realised. Abraham through his faith blessed many peoples. Matthew knew God’s blessing. He left his sin behind and entered into a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus- a relationship that not only changed his life for ever but blessed the lives of millions through his ministry and writings.
Abraham, Jesus, and Matthew, all left their comfort zones to reach out in mission. Mission is about going to the place where people congregate and interacting with them. We must not forget that for these people we encounter in mission, it takes guts and determination for them to venture close to our communities of faith. It is hard for them to leave their comfort zones and seek a blessing in the church, in the unfamiliar and unknown.
We see something of this movement from the comfortable and known to the unfamiliar and scary in Jairus, the synagogue ruler and the woman suffering with haemorrhaging. Both have to leave their comfort zones and come to Jesus. Although in different ways, desperation draws them from their places of security to the place of blessing. For both of them, it is a matter of life and death.
Life and death are at the heart of many choices we make. In Scripture we are called to choose life. Life is all to do with faith. Death is with unbelief. We admire the faith and trust of Abraham and Matthew, and we have good cause to marvel at the faith and trust of Jairus and the woman suffering from haemorrhaging. Both are seeking God’s blessing. It was only possible for them to seek this blessing, because Jesus was not secluded in a warm church, hidden from others, but rather out in the marketplace where people were, sharing publicly God’s teaching and showing God’s love and power, and forgiveness. Whilst it is not easy for the woman to approach Jesus. She has faith and believes that if she can just touch the hem of his garment, she will be healed. She displays courage in drawing near to the crowd itself, never mind Jesus. She is unclean and so she is not meant to mix with the public for she is seen as an outcast, ostracised because of her illness.
I like to think, that Jesus used the term “daughter” to this woman, because he did not see her as a socially unclean outcast, but a daughter who needed healing. A woman who was so desperate for healing that she risked touching the hem of his garment. A woman whose faith was strong, so strong that Jesus felt power leave him. Jesus’ holiness transforms her uncleanness. The flow of blood is stopped. The woman is healed. It was the faith behind the woman’s desire to touch the cloak that made her whole. “Your faith has healed you.” She knew God’s richest of blessings that day and through her act God was blessed and lives transformed.
It would be enjoyable to think for a few moments what this would have meant for this woman-even though we know nothing more about her. First, her illness was gone, after years with suffering and with doctors who could not help. All of us have been ill in some way, and know the delight of being well again, not having pain, infections, incapacitating illnesses–to be able to move freely and comfortably in life. Second, she was able to live the normal life of a woman. We do not know if she was married or not, but in any case, she would now be able to have a normal relation with a man, to enjoy a marriage, to have children. For a woman in Israel this was a sign of God’s blessing. But third, she could now enter the temple for the first time in twelve years, to be among the ceremonially clean, to hear the Levitical choirs, to offer her praise to God at the altar, and to eat from the holy flesh of the peace offering in the presence of God. She is truly blessed.
Another life that was truly blessed by God was the daughter of Jairus. It would have taken courage and guts on the part of Jairus, the Jewish synagogue ruler, to come to Jesus who was sitting with tax collectors eating in the house of Matthew. Despite the Jewish law and Jairus’ role in the synagogue, Jairus came humbly in faith to Jesus. He implored him to heal his sick twelve -year -old daughter, who Matthew described first of all as dying, and then later as dead. No doubt Jairus had heard from many the testimony of Jesus’ miraculous power and love and in his desperation, he pleads with Jesus to help him. Jairus believes that if Jesus touches his little girl, she would be well. Jesus willingly goes to Jairus’ house to help his daughter. Jesus was not afraid to touch her, even if it did mean that in Jewish law, he was defiling himself. Jesus’ holiness transforms the people’s uncleanness. Jesus raises them to his level. Jesus makes them worthy to be in the presence of God. The little girl comes back to life. In her resurrection Jesus is heralding a new kingdom for those who have eyes to see. This kingdom is open to all and is all about blessing.
God’s blessing is for all. Are you open to receiving God’s blessing today? As you go about your daily routine will you be alert to God’ s call, inviting you to share in his mission of blessing others. Who will you touch and bless today and who will say of you “Oh, you are such a blessing!” 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.
This is my body broken body resurrected for you- says the Lord.
Broken, that’s our bodies.
They’re wrecked by the pressures of work.
They’re strained to the limit by consumer demand.
They’re starved of creativity.
They’re separated from that which is life- giving.
They’re torn by loneliness and alienation.
Heal our bodies with your divine touch,
and pour your blessing upon us.
Lord hear us
Lord graciously hear us.
Lord forgive us when we place technology,
achievement and success above all
and push people to the side.
Resurrection lies in our rediscovery
of the simple and contented life.
Renew our places of work with breathing spaces
for creativity and camaraderie,
Renew our lives with breathing holes of stillness
that in the busyness of life,
our bodies may be resurrected
in meaning, hope and inner peace.
Lord hear us
Lord graciously hear us.
Broken that’s our bodies
They’re weary of role-playing.
They’re exhausted by living up to images.
They’re confused about identity.
Are we defined by what we wear?
Are we what we enjoy?
Are we what we possess?
Are we what we accomplish?
Resurrection lies in our mystical union with Christ
in whom our identity is fused
and in whom we are made one.
Save us Lord from conforming to the pattern of this world.
Give us the courage to be counter-cultural,
and help us to set a new way of living before our neighbours
the way of being –so that brokenness might lead to resurrection.
Lord hear us
Lord graciously hear us.
Broken: that’s our bodies.
Our bodies are broken by illusion.
They’re marred by the demand for the ideal.
They’re damaged by what can we get out of this relationship mentality.
They’re destroyed by the disposal attitude to life.
They’re laid to ruins by distrust, suspicion and anxiety.
Lord bring your resurrection power
into our relationships with one another.
Help us to move out of our comfort zones
and reach out in love to others.
Envision us to see that sacrificial love
to one another is the way of trust, mutual love and growth.
Lord hear us
Lord graciously hear us.
Broken that is our bodies
Illness and suffering leave their scar.
Advancing years reduce mobility and
bring a host of dilemmas and aliments.
Our bodies may wane
but our spirits are often still young at heart,
and full of zest for living.
Guard our hearts, minds and spirits,
in their youthfulness and in their zest for living
that each day is a day to be enjoyed,
a gift to treasure.
Strength us in our infirmities
and keep our outlook positive.
Lord hear us
Lord graciously hear us.
Broken that is our bodies.
Torn apart by loss and death.
Crying out in grief
for those we love dearly and are parted from us.
Surround all who mourn,
with your comfort, love and kindness.
Lord hear us
Lord graciously hear us.
Broken were the lives,
of Jairus and his family
the woman with the issue of blood,
and Matthew the tax collector.
Thank you that you were there in their midst
listening and ministering to them,
showering blessings upon them.
Lord, teach us the rhythm of the Christian life,
that we might create breathing holes for ourselves
so that we might know your blessing
and be a blessing to others.
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.
God the Holy Trinity, make you strong in faith and love,
defend you on every side, and guide you in truth and peace;
and the blessing of God almighty,
Father, Son and 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