Service of the Word: Sunday 26th July

Gospel Reading

A reading from the gospel according to Matthew,

Glory to Christ our Saviour

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.” 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 someone found and hid; 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. “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for 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.

Homily by the Revd Lee Johnston

A man sells everything he has to gain the pearl of great price. Another finds a piece of treasure in a field, sells all he has, and in his joy buys that field where the treasure is. What these stories hold in common is that people are searching. The merchant we’re told, was in search of fine pearls. The other person searched field after field before he found in the treasure in just one of them. Jesus saw that people are by nature, searching, longing, for something of endless and immeasurable value. A prize, possession or even a person that will not disappoint nor dissipate over time. Most people are searching for that ultimate completeness and yet many report a feeling of emptiness when they can’t find it or they settle their dreams on something man-made or human which can never fully satisfy. Everyone is searching and for that reason, everyone is in a sense, religious – looking beyond themselves for the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in the field of life, which will satisfy them with meaning and love.

Jesus tells those who feel that sense of something missing; those searching for ultimate truth and meaning, that it can be found. Found not in the temporary gods of the modern age: romance, money or prestige, but in the kingdom of real and living God. The source of being itself, who alone is unchanging, eternal and of infinite worth. Only in God can our seemingly endless search for love, truth and beauty be complete because he is the source of them all. God as he is shown to us in Jesus Christ is that pearl of great price, that treasure hidden in the field of every day life and experience.

But it’s not enough to know these facts in your head or repeat them in a creed. In the story, the searchers, when they knew what unique and valuable treasure they had discovered, sold all else to invest in it. They realised this treasure or pearl was in a category of its own, worth everything else that they had. They gave themselves to it fully, they recognized it was above all other things that they held dear. When we catch a true glimpse of what God is like, our response is worship. Perhaps you know the truth, you live the way of Christ, but you’ve lost the joy and satisfaction promised here by Jesus. It may be time to ask if God is still the highest treasure, the pearl of greatest price, the one of infinite value to you; or if your religion is simply one good among many. When God is the beauty, love and truth that captivates you above all the other good things in your life, the one you’ve given everything to, the sun around which your world revolves, then joy can return. And that joy will not only be joy in God, but joy in all the other good gifts in your life, which now find their true place as God’s blessing and gift to you.

Intercessions

Lord, you are our source and purpose, our beginning and our end. Help us to see as you see, think as you think and love as you love. Give sight to our leaders, that they may place human dignity and justice at the top of their vision for the countries they serve. We pray especially for the governments of poorer nations in their fight against both poverty and the coronavirus, asking for wise leaders with compassionate hearts to be given the resources to help those under their care.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, your kingdom like treasure in a field, excites our hearts to serve and worship you. Help your church to assist others in their search for truth and love, sharing with them the good news that God is alive and with each of us. We pray especially for Bishops, Clergy and churches everywhere as they take steps to re-open, that our nation’s need for both safety and spirituality may be met in abundance by your grace.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, you are the pearl of great price, your gift of love and life will never fail us. So we pray for those who need certainty and comfort and healing at this time, those afflicted by changes to their health or those hurt by the events of life, holding before you: Christine, Georgie, Ian, Les, Sam, Olive, Richard, Ros, Chris, Bill, Lorna, Joyce, Louyse, John, Avril, Helga, Karen, Colin, Margaret, and the family and friends of Emma, who has passed. We pray too for those who have been unable to visit loved ones, that you would bless them with being reunited, thinking especially of Rachel. May your unchanging love be felt by each of them.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, each of us are precious in your sight and treasured in your heart, in both our living and our dying. With trust in your eternal life, we give thanks for Mildred, Stuart, Emma and remember Mary and Eveline before you, who’s year’s minds fall at this time.

Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.