St James, Gatley,
4th Sunday after Trinity – 5 July 2020
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
by the obedience of Jesus
you brought salvation to the world:
draw us into harmony with your will,
that we may find all things restored in him,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
to whom all hearts are 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 Christ our Lord.
O God, the protector of all who trust in you,
without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:
increase and multiply upon us your mercy;
that with you as our ruler and guide
we may so pass through things temporal
that we lose not our hold on things eternal;
grant this, heavenly Father,
for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the warhorse from Jerusalem;
and the battle-bow shall be cut off,
and he shall command peace to the nations;
his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
today I declare that I will restore to you double.
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
1 Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come.
2 Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings within, and fears without.
3 Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea all I need, in thee to find,
4 Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because thy promise I believe,
5 Just as I am, (thy love unknown
has broken every barrier down),
Now to be thine, yea thine alone,
6 Just as I am, of that free love
the breadth, length, depth and height to prove,
here for a season then above,
O Lamb of God, I come.
Matthew 11.16-19, 25-end
‘But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another,
“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.”
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.’
At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’
In our opening prayer today we prayed: ‘Gracious Father, by the obedience of Jesus you brought salvation to the world: draw us into harmony with your will, that we may find all things restored in him, our Saviour Jesus Christ.’ In our lives as Christians our fundamental prayer is that God would ‘draw us into harmony’ with his will. As we pray in the Lord’s prayer: ‘your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.’ Over the past few weeks we have been thinking about how Jesus liberates us to align our wills to God’s. In the reading from Romans, Paul continues to wrestle with the mystery of sin. He says, ‘I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.’ Paul recognises that sin prevents us from doing the good that we want to do. We might say our wills are unstable or weakened through the presence of sin. We, of ourselves, do not have the capacity to defeat sins power in our lives; we need to be liberated from its hold. Jesus is the one who saves us from sin and strengthens our wills to do the good. As Paul puts it at the end of today’s reading: ‘Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!’
Jesus has rescued us from sin, but we are also aware that it is still a part of our lives. Andrew Davison, commenting on today’s reading from Romans says, ‘God rescues us from [sin] in Christ Jesus. Viewed from the perspective of eternity, this is a done deal. Viewed from within time, there is still a transformation to undergo for each one of us. The tradition has spoken of this as an ‘education of desire’. We still have to see, understand and desire clearly and rightly. This is part of our return to God, who is the truest object of our desire.’
So, the ‘education of desire’ has to do with the way in which God’s Spirit helps us to desire God above everything else, and in desiring God we find that we are freed to be the people God has called us to be, we find freedom. As a well-known prayer puts it, God’s ‘service is perfect freedom’. Davison continues ‘In contrast [to serving God], serving ourselves can be slavery, since very often we stray from our own best interests. God’s will is not divided, although ours can be. Return to God and you will return to yourself.’
Just think about some of the things we desire in our lives: security, wealth, praise, happiness, fulfilment. All of these are important and necessary parts of life but just imagine for a moment that our overarching desire in life is wealth, for example. There are all sorts of ways in which this desire could lead us into sin. How much wealth is enough wealth? If I desire wealth above everything, other people necessarily become either a means to my acquiring more wealth or competitors who are preventing me from fulfilling my desire to be wealthy. We can see how the desire to be wealthy can, in fact, become a kind of slavery. The education of desire has to do with learning to desire God above everything else, and in desiring God, everything else falls into place and our relationships with others are rightly ordered.
It can be a useful exercise to reflect on the things we desire, and the desires that lie beneath those desires. When we desire God our wills come into harmony with God’s will. We learn to see the ways in which certain desires weaken our will to align our wills with God’s. The Spirit of God teaches us desire what God desires, it weakens the influence of sin in our lives and the desires that seem to offer so much but deliver so little. May God’s Spirit teach us to desire God, and in desiring God help us to find true freedom. Amen.
O Holy Spirit, Lord of Grace – Christopher Tye
O Holy Spirit, Lord of grace,
eternal source of love,
inflame, we pray, our inmost hearts
with fire from heav’n above.
As thou dost join with holiest bonds
the Father and the Son,
so fill us all with mutual love
and knit our hearts in one,
and knit our hearts in one
Let us pray
God our Father, we pray for the needs of the world. We pray Lord for those parts of the world where the Covid-19 virus is spreading rapidly. We pray for those who are unwell, and we pray that leaders, governments and nations may make wise decisions in these difficult circumstances. Bless those who care for the sick and inspire all those working to find potential treatments and vaccines to counter the virus.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Lord Jesus, we pray for your Church. We pray for St James as we make preparations for public worship next week. We pray for those who are shielding and for those who will continue to join our services online. We pray for our diocese, and our new Bishop, Mark Tanner. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Holy Spirit, we pray for our local community. We pray for our local GP surgeries, residential homes, schools, shops and businesses. We pray for those in our community whose jobs are at risk – draw close to them and help them in these times of uncertainty. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God of love, we pray for all who are unwell. We pray by name for for Alexis, Iris, Anne, Kath, Mary, Ceri, Martina, Christine, Malcolm and Tilly. Bless them and strengthen them. We pray for their families, and we name in our hearts anyone else we know who is unwell and in need of prayer… Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God of peace, we commend to you all have died in recent days. We pray for Christine Gallimore and her family. Draw near to all who mourn and help them to find sources of healing and support. We pray for those who draw near to death and commend them into your sure and safe keeping. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
You may want to make some personal prayers of your own here
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.
A time of silence and self-examination may be kept.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour
in thought and word and deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We are truly sorry
and repent of all our sins.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
who died for us,
forgive us all that is past
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name.
May the Father of all mercies cleanse us from our sins,
and restore us in his image to the praise and glory of his name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord Jesus, it is not possible for me to share in the sacrament of Holy Communion today, but I want to be united with you and so I receive you into my heart and share in communion with you through the gift of your Holy Spirit. I pray for spiritual nourishment and give thanks that nothing can separate me from your love.
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 almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
1 Go forth and tell! O church of God, awake!
God's saving news to all the nations take;
proclaim Christ Jesus, Saviour, Lord, and King,
that all the world his worthy praise may sing.
2 Go forth and tell! God's love embraces all;
he will in grace respond to all who call:
how shall they call if they have never heard
the gracious invitation of his word?
3 Go forth and tell where still the darkness lies;
in wealth or want, the sinner surely dies:
give us, O Lord, concern of heart and mind,
a love like yours which cares for humankind.
4 Go forth and tell! The doors are open wide:
share God's good gifts - let no one be denied;
live out your life as Christ your Lord shall choose,
your ransomed powers for his sole glory use.
5 Go forth and tell! O church of God, arise!
go in the strength which Christ your Lord supplies;
go till all nations his great name adore
and serve him, Lord and King for evermore.
We go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Amen.
Extra hymns to sing/enjoy after the service
1 Jesu, the very thought of thee
with sweetness fills my breast;
but sweeter far thy face to see,
and in thy presence rest.
2 Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
nor can the memory find,
a sweeter sound than thy blest name,
O Saviour of mankind!
3 O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
to those who fall, how kind thou art!
How good to those who seek!
4 But what to those who find? Ah, this
nor tongue nor pen can show;
the love of Jesus, what it is,
none but his loved ones know.
5 Jesus, our only joy be thou,
as thou our prize wilt be;
Jesus, be thou our glory now,
and through eternity.
1 Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
to his feet your tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like me his praise should sing?
Praise him! Praise him!
Praise the everlasting King.
2 Praise him for his grace and favour
to our fathers in distress;
praise him still the same for ever,
slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Praise him! Praise him!
Glorious in his faithfulness.
3 Father-like he tends and spares us;
well our feeble frame he knows;
in his hand he gently bears us,
rescues us from all our foes.
Praise him! Praise him!
widely yet his mercy flows.
4 Angels, help us to adore him;
ye behold him face to face;
sun and moon, bow down before him,
dwellers all in time and space.
Praise him! Praise him!
Praise with us the God of grace.