Reading, Reflection and Prayers for 1st Sunday after Trinity, 14 June 2020
After the events of Holy Week and Easter, culminating in the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the church enters calmer waters as we go into a prolonged season known as Ordinary Time. If we were in church, we would see that the altar frontals and furnishings had been changed to green – a good colour for a time that we could also think of as ‘Growing Time,’ as the baton for sharing the gospel message is passed to us. We enter this time with Jesus’ words of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) which we heard in the gospel last week, still ringing in our ears: ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, and remember that I am with you always.’ Those words make a perfect lens through which to read the teaching we will receive in the coming weeks from Matthew’s Gospel about what it means to be a disciple.
I tend to think of the apostles’ activity in sharing the gospel message as confined to the events we read about in Acts and the letters of the New Testament. So it’s a bit of a surprise to be reminded here that the disciples were called and sent out to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, long before Jesus’ death and resurrection or the empowering gift of the Holy Spirit.
It's clear from Jesus’ words and warnings that he was sending them out into a hostile world. He knew that neither the religious establishment, nor the occupying Roman powers wanted to be challenged by the demands and values of the kingdom of God. The world that he conjures up is not so different from the world we live in today in terms of its racial, religious and political polarisation. That’s the world into which we, too, are sent to speak and live out the kingdom values of love, peace, truth and justice.
Why would Jesus ask his disciples to undertake such a difficult task? Why would he ask us to do the same?
I think the answer lies in this verse:
When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
It is God’s love and compassion for the world which gave us Jesus to live among us in the world. It was Jesus’ love and compassion which compelled him to heal the sick, feed the hungry and restore people to fullness of life. It was a task too large for him to undertake on his own which was why he summoned out the apostles to do the same on his behalf and why he continues to summon out his followers to act for justice in an unjust world. The disciples had already spent much time in Jesus’ company as he went about the cities and villages, teaching and healing. And for them to respond in the way that they did, they must have also found that love and compassion growing within themselves, compelling them to continue their mission despite opposition, indifference and even outright persecution.
They must have felt daunted, wondered what they had got into, and whether they were doing the right thing. But even before the gift of the Holy Spirit, before Jesus’ final promise’ I am with you always,’ Jesus had blessed them with the promise of the Spirit who would be with them and speak through them.(10:19-20)
In the coming weeks as we share the life and teaching of Jesus through Matthew’s Gospel, may we grow in love and compassion for a world in desperate need of both, compelling us to answer God’s call to take our part in the divine mission. Even though we too will feel daunted and doubtful, we too have that promise to hold on to: ‘ I am with you always to the end of the age.’
I was thinking about this, the words of this song
‘The Summons’ from the Wild Goose Resource Group
came to mind, so I share them with you here.
Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown? Will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?
Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?
Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?
Will you love the "you" you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you've found to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?
Lord your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In Your company I'll go where Your love and footsteps show.
Thus I'll move and live and grow in you and you in me.
Reopening of churches for private prayer
With the announcement from Government and following the Church of England guidelines, the Rector, Church Wardens and PCC Secretary/ Parish Administrator are now in the process of preparing our churches ( St James and All Saints) for a partial reopening of our buildings for PRIVATE PRAYER.
This will take a few days to have everything in place to comply with COVID19 advice.
At Monday’s staff meeting we will assess our progress and preparation – if we are happy that we have met all our targets, we will then publish our times of opening for the next two weeks. This is likely to be for two hours twice a week. The church will be manned during this time. Both churches will be cleaned at the end of each opening and then locked for 72 hours.
Whilst we are all still in lock-down (or partial!) I am in the office Monday - Thursday. The times may vary a
little to my normal hours though the phone will always be answered between 9.30 am and midday on these days.
Outside these hours please contact me on 01531 633561 or 07850 892559. Many thanks
Joy (Parish Administrator)
Sunday evening Zoom service at 6.30pm
The link and log in details have been distributed to those on the Parishioners mailing list but is also available from the Parish Office (see Contacts page).
We shall need volunteers for the psalm reading, the bible reading (liaise with Anne), and intercessions so that
an order of service can be circulated.
Please contact Marian & Mike (540108)
A huge thank you to everyone for their generous donations for the Ledbury Foodbank - a reminder that collection points will be open every Tuesday & Thursday from 2-4pm (Station car park and Wisteria House, 7 Colwall Green).