Reading, Reflection and Prayers for 2nd Sunday after Trinity, 21 June 2020

Reading

Matthew 10:24-39

Reflection

These last few days have seen the gradual easing of lockdown for many people. A huge swathe of people have returned to work with the re-opening of non-essential shops; children are gradually trickling back into school; people are feeling more confident about meeting up with others – outside, at least. The churches are tentatively opening for private prayer, funerals are to be allowed to take place in the church again, and we are hopeful that soon we will be able to worship together in the flesh instead of on Zoom. With all the necessary precautions in place, of course.

Many commentators have speculated on what the ‘new normal’ might look like - in particular, after such a world-changing event, how the opportunity might be grasped to reshape the world we live in for the better. The last three months have seen sickness, death, grief, fear, loneliness, financial hardship, strife and at times violence abound. But they have also seen love, compassion, self-sacrifice, generosity and a deepening sense of community and mutual responsibility. People of all faiths and none have come together to provide for the disadvantaged in their communities. We have seen the benefits to the environment of reduced air and road travel. And many of us have engaged with modern technology in previously unimagined ways!

The future is still very uncertain and unknown. Although we know that the new normal will look very different, it’s still hard to know what shape it will take, whether we’re thinking about political and economic realities, work and school routines, communal and leisure activities, the environment or our worshipping communities.

We might like to think about how we, as Christians charged with the mission of proclaiming the Kingdom of God, might contribute to the necessary reshaping of our world. Out of the experience of pandemic, what is it that we need to bring into the light and proclaim from the housetops? Of what do we need to repent and reform? These last three months have revealed unexpected generosity, love and compassion, but also greed, selfishness and injustice at all levels of society.

Jesus challenged corruption and injustice wherever he met it and he knew that to live a life of integrity would inevitably produce challenge and conflict, even within the heart of families. For Jesus, that way of living led ultimately to the cross. What he wants his disciples, and us, to know is that when we stand up for those values which he has shown us – the kingdom values of truth and justice – we will encounter opposition and hostility. Forewarned is forearmed!

These verses make for challenging reading – there is nothing cosy or comfortable about the gospel mission we are called to. But tucked within these verses is good news. Those who stand up to be counted by speaking and living out the values of the kingdom, need have no fear because we are of such value to God that even the hairs on our head are counted. Three times in the space of six verses, we are told ‘Do not be afraid.’ God has us enfolded in his tender, merciful love. So we can confidently be a people of courage and love trusting in the faithfulness of God as we seek the ways in which our reshaping, developing new world can be more closely conformed to the kingdom of God.

For prayer or meditation

Gorge with textIt's said that the words ‘Do not be afraid’ occur 366 times in the bible – one for each day of the year, including leap year!
I haven’t checked it out but one of my favourites is this from Isaiah 43:

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
   I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
   and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
   and the flame shall not consume you.
You are precious in my sight,
   and honoured, and I love you.

A prayer by Joe Seremane South Africa. Lifelines (Christian Aid 1987)

You asked for my hands that you might use them for your purpose.
I gave them for a moment then withdrew them for the work was hard.

You asked for my mouth to speak out against injustice.
 I gave you a whisper that I might not be accused.

You asked for my eyes to see the pain of poverty.
 I closed them for I did not want to see.

 You asked for my life that you might work through me.
 I gave a small part that I might not get too involved.

 Lord, forgive my calculated efforts to serve you,
only when it is convenient for me to do so,
 only in those places where it is safe to do so,
and only with those who make it easy to do so.

 Father, forgive me, renew me,
send me out as a usable instrument

Notices

Service for the late John (Becky) Darby

The Cremation service for John to be live streamed – Sylvia & Rob have asked that we circulate the details for those of you who would like to be part of the service
Date: 26th June 2020. Time: 3.00 p.m.
Link: www.obitus.com  Code: Dagu9016     Password: 130631
We remember Sylvia and Rob as they prepare to say goodbye to John.

Reopening of churches for private prayer

St James is open this Sunday (21st June) from 11.00 am till 1.00pm.

Times and days for the coming week will be announced on Monday 22nd June.

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).

Message from St James Church, Aston

We have been sent greetings from our link church of St James, Aston. Maureen rang the office last week and sends her love and best wishes to you all - they are all well in Aston, though, like many of us have been affected by the challenges of the current situation.

Alas, we will miss seeing them this year, as celebrations for St James day this year are very much on hold.

Thank you to the groundstaff from the Downs School

We record are thanks to the groundstaff of the Downs school who have cleared and mown a large part of the churchyard around the church building and other work in the churchyard.

Food Bank

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).