Sunday Eucharist prayers, readings and reflections are available below.
TRINITY VI SUNDAY 19th JULY
Merciful God you have prepared for those who love you such good things as pass our understanding; pour into our hearts such love toward you that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 8:12-25, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.
- for those in authority that they may seek to bring about justice and peace.
- for those who lead us in the church that they may guide us into the ways of God's Kingdom.
- for ourselves, for perseverance, patience and faith and for reminders of the care and closeness of God.
- for the sick and especially Charlie Chesser, Otto Lein, Paul Evans and Marlies Kisch.
And for those who have died, particularly for William Scott and Freddie Jackson, priests.
"Let them grow together until the harvest." Matthew 13:30.
Tertullian was a Christian theologian and prolific writer in the 2nd century. He came from Carthage and was the first to write an exposition of the doctrine of the Trinity. I can still remember having to read his "On Baptism" at university.
He went off the rails a bit in middle age - as people sometimes do - and split from the mainstream church and embraced the Montanist heresy which, you will remember, believed, amongst some very strange things, in the validity of a direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the individual that superseded all other forms of authority in the Church.
At all stages in his life Tertullian was a rigorist, advocating strict discipline and austere practise. Christians must not go to the theatre lest they be infected with paganism. Women must not wear gold or jewels. Young women had to be heavily veiled. Although himself married he encouraged celibacy. Second marriages, even after the death of a spouse was adultery.
His vision of the church was of a group of people who knew that they were chosen and saved and who were expected to follow a rigorous morality..
2nd century Carthage may seem distant, but Tertullian's ideas have cropped up with great regularity throughout the history of the church., for instance amongst the Gnostics of the 4th and 5th centuries and amongst the Albigensians with their "Perfecti" in Medieval France, and such ideas are far from unknown today and this way of thinking is by no means confined to Christians.
There are plenty who would see the church as a gathering of the good rather than a school, or perhaps even a hospital, for sinners, sinners who just sometimes manage to be saints too.
We need to read with care this Parable of the Weeds.In this parable the farmer allows the weeds to flourish and God's refreshing rain falls on the unjust as well as the just. Why? I think first the farmer recognises the danger that in weeding his workers might uproot the good with the bad. And second, this is how God intends his disciples to live, among and the unbelievers. Without the real world and its temptations our faith will not grow strong. It will become rarefied and disengaged. Our faith always gets stronger through being challenged.
The workers would have made a mess of the field and discarded much that was good. Likewise we sometimes discard people who do not follow our version of Christianity. It is frustrating to have to wait for the harvest. There may be an impatience to establish the kingdom on earth. Sadly it always ends up being another human kingdom.
Sometimes it does seem that if we could but get rid of those influences which tempt us, then we could cope; belief and trust would be easy. But Jesus frequently points out to the punctilious Pharisees that life is never tidy.
So how do we cope with the mess? The mess of wars, of natural disasters, of injustice and cruelty? Listen to St Paul's words from his Letter to the Romans: "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry 'Abba! Father!' It is that very same spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ - if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him."
For judgement we have to wait for the harvest. But we do not have to wait until then to draw near to God. He is near us now, through the indwelling power of his Spirit. The power which enables us to speak to God in such intimate terms, calling him "Father", is the same power that gives us patience in our hope. In the world, yet patient, with different people, yet not judging, in a time of flux, yet resting on the Spirit's power, confident that as God separates the wheat from the weeds, so also will he bring to perfection his whole creation - ourselves included.