Today's prayers, readings and reflections are available below.
TRINITY V SUNDAY 12th JULY
Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified: hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people, that in their vocation and ministry they may serve you in holiness and truth to the glory of your name; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.
Isaiah 55:10-13, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23.
We pray for those who proclaim the word of God in their preaching, teaching, writing and broadcasting.
We pray for all who proclaim the word of God in the way they live and love their neighbours as themselves. May this community be a field which the Lord has blessed.
We pray for those who proclaim the word of God through their ministries of healing and care for those who are weak, ill and vulnerable.
We pray especially for the sick, by name for: Charlie Chesser, Otto Lein, William Scott, Paul Evans and Marlies Kisch..
We pray for those who have died. May they be granted a place of refreshment, light and peace.
"For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." Isaiah 55:12.
Isaiah speaks of creation's joyful celebration of the fruitful word of God. The very mountains and hills sing and the trees clap their hands. Today is a day of celebration for those who are able to attend church this morning, although perforce a somewhat muted one. This morning we are again able to obey Christ's command and teaching and to celebrate the Eucharist together. For the last sixteen Sundays I have celebrated the Parish Eucharist alone in the Vicarage.I had never celebrated Mass alone before. It was a strange experience in some ways. It was important that the Eucharist was offered. The very fact that I did this alone taught me a lot about the corporate nature of our faith, the significance of our Christian community, about the Body of Christ. It is good for some of us to be present again together in church.
And it is good to again have the opportunity to receive Christ in the sacrament. Some may find this an emotional moment after so long. One of our members found himself locked down in France (I can think of worse places even with the restaurants closed!). The French church began Sunday Masses some weeks ago and he told me how moved he had been to see a lady next to him taking the sacrament and weeping with joy. It has been a long haul and at times a painful one.
When thinking about the resumption of services in church after the unwelcome interruption I remembered a story of a teacher in the University of Salamanca, in Spain, in the seventeenth century. The Augustinian friar Fray Luis held some radical views for his time and had the temerity to translate one of the books of the bible into the vernacular, into Spanish. He fell foul of the Inquisition who had him arrested as he was in the midst of teaching his students. After five years languishing in prison he was released and resumed his chair and reverted in his opening lecture to the theme he had left in the air five years before with the celebrated words:'Dicebamus hestema die', 'As we were saying yesterday....' It was an act of defiance and an assertion that nothing that had happened to him had changed his views. But I realized that I could not use his words because after all these weeks things are not the same. We are not the same. A lot has happened. And I guess we shall soon begin, if we have not started already, a process of reflection upon recent events. There will be questioning of the actions of the Government, an appraising of the success and failures of the National Health Service. There will no doubt be those who will want to criticise the church and especially her leaders for her performance. But perhaps we should start our reflections with ourselves. We are ourselves changed. Some of you may have learnt to bake bread! Households may have come to know one another at a depth they barely imagined possible. At particularly dark times we may have thought and said,and perhaps even done things for which we are rightly and deeply ashamed.
At the start of all this crisis I wrote and reminded you of the story of the encounter of two disciples with someone walking on the road to Emmaus on the evening of the first Easter Day, of how he encouraged these downhearted disciples with words from the scriptures explaining the nature of redemptive suffering. They finally recognise the stranger when he shared a meal with them and broke bread. All along this journey of the last few months we have not been alone and Christ continues to walk the way with us.
As we reflect upon our lives, upon all that may please and all that may bring sorrow to our Redeemer we must always remember that we have in him a just and gentle judge, and one who, if we make him our ruler and guide, will, as one of the old Prayer Book Collects puts it, lead us through "things temporal that we lose not the things eternal."