Sunday Service 2nd August 2020

Pentecost 9  August 2nd 2020

Today we focus on Jesus’ feeding of the multitude – a feast of life.

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.       Amen. Lord, have mercy.

Collect:   Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ fed the hungry with the bread of his life and the word of his kingdom.  Renew your people with your heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us by your true and living bread, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Reading:     Isaiah 55:1-5
Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!   Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy?  Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.  Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

Gospel:    Matthew 14:13-21
Now when Jesus heard that Herod had beheaded John the Baptist, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 
When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’ They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ And he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’ 
Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Reflection:   A feast at which a prophet was brutally murdered, and a feast at which a crowd of hungry people were healed and fed.  It’s quite a contrast. Jesus was devastated by the news of Herod the tyrant’s deadly violence against his cousin John, and withdrew to grieve.  But the crowd, who thought that John would bring change for them, were also shocked, and they were lost sheep seeking a shepherd.  Jesus brought them healing and nourishment and hope.

Herod feared public opinion and feared for his own security, as all tyrants do.  His concern was not the people’s welfare, but his own survival.  Jesus had the security of knowing his mission and the Father’s love, and was free to turn from himself to others.  His ‘compassion’ was more than a kindly attitude;  his ‘heart went out’ to the crowd, and he was determined to share God’s abundance and love.

Herod’s birthday feast, at which John the Baptist was murdered to satisfy his step-daughter Salome’s request, served up death on a platter.  It symbolises all that is rotten and destructive in our world: the death-dealing power of tyrants, the casual dismissal of human life, the dangers faced by those who seek to challenge evil.  We are all too familiar with selfish power and frightened violence.

Jesus offered a feast of life. He gave the crowd rest, security, healing and food, a feast that Isaiah had a vision of in our first reading.  His action was a protest against all that is self-seeking, fearful and destructive, and it was a reverent, worshipful celebration of the abundant gifts of God to be multiplied and shared with everyone. 
It was truly a sign of the Kingdom of God.

To ponder:
A Russian proverb says:  When a Russian dies, the weight of all the bread that they have discarded unused is calculated.  If it is greater than their weight, they are sent to Hell.

Prayers: 
Almighty God, we pray for those in power, that they may not succumb to fear or self-seeking, but seek the common good with integrity.  We pray especially for the governments in Westminster and Holyrood, with the responsibilities and temptations they face at this time.
             Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of all compassion, we pray for those who seek healing, shelter and food, especially those for whom the support of the past months is coming to an end.  Show us ways to share the security and abundance that you have given us.
            Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of mercy, we pray for those who face threats and violent death for standing up for what is right.  We remember especially those persecuted for their faith.
            Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Holy God, bless your Church as it seeks to share the good news of your love and compassion.  Guide Bishop Ian and all Christians in our neighbourhoods as we seek your Kingdom coming among us.
           Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen

Confession:  

God our Father, we confess to you and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ that we have sinned in thought, word and deed, and in what we have failed to do. We are truly sorry.

Forgive us our sins, and deliver us from the power of evil, for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

God, who is both power and love, forgive us and free us from our sins,

heal and strengthen us by his Spirit, and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord.  Amen

The Great Thanksgiving
Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
for it is right to give him thanks and praise.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, Father, in every place and at all times.  All power is yours. You created the heavens and established the earth; you sustain in being all that is.
In Christ your Son our life and yours are brought together in a wonderful exchange. He made his home among us that we might for ever dwell in you. Through your Holy Spirit you call us to new birth in a creation restored by love.
As children of your redeeming purpose we offer you our praise,
with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven,
singing the hymn of your unending glory:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.      
Hosanna in the highest.
Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for the gift of your Son born in human flesh. He is the Word existing beyond time, both source and final purpose, bringing to wholeness all that is made.
Obedient to your will he died upon the Cross. By your power you raised him from the dead. He broke the bonds of evil and set your people free to be his Body in the world.

On the night when he was given up to death, knowing that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them to the end. At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.”

We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice.

Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.

Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages,
world without end. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:   Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done;  on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.   Amen.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you. 

Closing prayer: 
May our mouths speak the praise of the Lord,
our minds think the wisdom of the Lord,
our hands and feet do the will of the Lord:
and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
rest upon us for ever, Amen

You might like to finish with this hymn, which you can find sung at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUVCpF8-VuE

I heard the voice of Jesus say,  “Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down Thy head upon My breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was, weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad. 

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one, stoop down, and drink, and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him. 

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s Light;
Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise, and all thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found in Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that light of life I’ll walk, till traveling days are done.