The Fourth Sunday after Trinity  5th July 2020


Morning Worship

Collect

O God, the protector of all who trust in you,
without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:
increase and multiply upon us your mercy;
that with you as our ruler and guide
we may so pass through things temporal
that we lose not our hold on things eternal;
grant this, heavenly Father,
for our Lord Jesus Christ's sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  

Amen       

 

Reading  

Gospel Reading –   Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’  For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!’  Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.

At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

 

Sermon Revd Lorna Allies

Matthew 11: 16-19,25-30

On Saturday most of us were released from lockdown. My son-in-law was so glad to get back to the village pub with his friends that he went down on Thursday afternoon to help the Landlord put up a marquee.  And it’s not about the pub, or the beer, it’s about being with his friends and enjoying being together, even though they will all keep their social distance.  At the same time one of my granddaughters – tired of having home discos with her flatmate – will be out too and there will be joyful times for some.

But for many the release seems too early, too worrying and they will remain where they are for a while longer.  And the truth is that we have not been released at all.  Covid-19 still holds us in its grip and we are not free yet.  What I know is that we should keep in prayer all those who are unable to take advantage of this supposed freedom because they are poor, frail, not well enough or afraid and we will continue, as we have been doing, to care for them.

Not being free was something I have thought a lot about this week.  I suppose it was because I read and read again the Gospel and what Jesus was saying and also because I have been reading Sam Wells book about the HeartEdge movement.  Sam speaks about being a prisoner of our past or of our future.  If we dwell on our past history, especially our past mistakes and wrongdoing, instead of understanding that we are forgiven and can move forward, then we are still imprisoned by our past.  If we retain bitter feelings about events in our past and cannot forgive, then we are still imprisoned by our past.   At the same time, if we are always concerned about the future and our security and anxious about how things will be or how thing might turn out, then we are equally imprisoned by our future. 

I continued pondering on what Jesus was saying that day about how he was received and what he was promising as I was putting together this time of worship that we are sharing, and I came across Thomas Ken and yet another thought about being locked up.  Thomas Ken wrote our first hymn: ‘Awake my soul and, with the sun thy daily stage of duty run.’  I started to look at Thomas Ken’s life and I grew to like him very much, even though he died in 1711.  He was a man full of integrity and people didn’t appreciate him – rather like the children in the marketplace Jesus talked about.

He was a priest, teacher, hymnwriter and Bishop but he continually upset the apparently wise and good.  Aged 42 he was appointed chaplain in the Hague, Holland to Princess Mary, wife of Prince William of Orange but he insisted that a promise of marriage, made to a lady of high birth by a relative of the prince should be kept.  They didn’t like that and he was hurriedly sent back to England.  He became Chaplain to Charles II but when Charles wanted to lodge with Nell Gwynne in Winchester, Thomas Ken objected and Nell was made to lodge somewhere else in the town.   Thomas Ken was one of the seven Bishops who refused to sing the Declaration of Indulgence (which was a ploy for James II to re-introduce his own Catholic faith) and Thomas found himself locked up in the Tower of London. His story goes on and he finally lost his Bishopric and retired.  But although he seemed unsuccessful he was a man full of faith and committed to Christ.   He was surrounded by many kind friends and, although he had been imprisoned for a while, he was always free.  When he died at 74 his many friends gathered at dawn and sang ‘Awake my soul and with Sun…’

I think you will be wondering where these thoughts of being a prisoner or being free link with today’s Gospel and I want to bring to you the words from the Book of Common Prayer in the service of Holy Communion:  ‘Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all that truly turn to him.  Come unto me all that travail and are heavy laden and I will refresh you.’ 

Neither John the Baptist nor Jesus had been received graciously by so many of the great and good but having acknowledged this, Jesus is speaking now to his devoted followers, and to you and I.  Jesus offers us something so very precious in the Gospel today.   It is our freedom.  Freedom from the burdens that we carry.

Firstly he tells us that no-one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father God, except the Son but then he adds ‘and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him’.  God is revealed to us by Jesus.  We too can enter the close relationship that Jesus has with his Father and be a part of it and we know that.

Then Jesus invites us to come to him when we feel weary and are carrying heavy burdens.  We may be carrying a burden from our past, or a burden of something we fear in our future, or a burden we are carrying in our hearts this very day. Those burdens imprison us and we are not free.  Jesus says – come and I will give you rest -my yoke is easy and my burden is light.   The yoke that Jesus offers, that holds us beside him as we journey through life, is easy to wear.  It will not chafe or become heavy – it will hold us close to him where we will find strength, peace and freedom.

Let us in prayer accept Jesus’ invitation.   Lord, help us to bring our hearts and souls to you, give us the grace to let you lift our burdens from us and gently place your yoke upon our shoulders to hold us close to you.

Amen.

 

Intercessions, written by Julie Collis

Gentle Lord, it is so long since we have been able to gather together in one place to pray to you, but we continue to pray together in spirit. 

Lord, we come, hear our prayer.

 

Gentle Lord, we pray for all clergy, for all who minister to your people - acknowledging the burden leadership places upon them.  Grace them with courage, wisdom, perseverance and strength as they seek to find new ways to worship and share the Gospel with your people. Grace your people with wisdom, humility and compassion to respond generously to those sent to lead us, that we will work together diligently for your glory.

Lord, we come, hear our prayer.

Gentle Lord, we pray for creation – aware of the problems afflicting humankind, the environment and wildlife.  Too often we have acquired more and more without regard to the consequences of our actions.  Lord, we are beginning to see the effect of how we have lived and the urgent need to change.  Help us change.

Lord, as nations grapple with the impact of the pandemic, let us not forget the injustices suffered by so many: women and children abused behind locked doors; people subject to human trafficking; families suffering poverty, war and famine; people suffering persecution because of race, religion, sexuality or gender.  So much injustice. Lord, grace us and especially leaders of nations with the wisdom to respond justly, humbly and with mercy to the challenges faced by the world, working together to overturn injustice and eliminate suffering. Help us to know what is ours to do.

Lord, we come, hear our prayer.

Gentle Lord, we pray for our communities, families, friends and for the Norwich community with its many shops, offices, restaurants, bars and theatre as life slowly comes back into the city.  We have spent many months at home and this has brought burdens to people in different ways, but also joy.  Let us remember moments of peace: when we heard birdsong, when we felt the sun on our faces, when we walked into a forest, trees stretching skywards and sunlight glinting through leaves - and we paused as our burdens fell away, and we praise you.

Let us remember the wonderful artwork the children brought to us last Sunday afternoon and their confident readings – the children lifted our spirits filling us with joy, and we praise you.

Let us remember the gestures of kindness we see and hear of every day: the carers, porters, paramedics, nurses and doctors weary but still caring; those who have worked throughout the pandemic fearful but courageous; and those who are returning gradually to work to serve the community perhaps worried but hopeful, and we praise you.

As we come to you, lift the burden of fear from our hearts; as we come to you, remind us your yoke is easy; as we come to you, we trust and rest in you, and we give thanks and we praise you.

Lord, we come, hear our prayer.

Gentle Lord, we pray for people who are sick in heart, mind, body or soul; for those who are on the road of recovery from cancer, surgery or Covid19.  From our congregation, we bring to you Pam, Angela, Simon, Janet, Martin and Val.   Lord, heal them, carry them, and reveal your love to them so they will know you are with them always.

Lord, we come, hear our prayer.

Gentle Lord, we pray for all those who have died recently; and, at their year’s mind, we remember with thanksgiving the lives of Harold Mould, Alan Hunt, George Williams, John Henderson, Christine Golden, Ruth Eedie, Stanley Cooper, Vera Mager and David Marris.

In a moment’s stillness, we bring to you our loved ones who are no longer with us, safe in the knowledge they are with you for eternity.  

Gentle Lord, be with people who are grieving, enfold them in your love and comfort them.

 

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

Blessing

As once again we can worship in our church, the following blessing seems appropriate.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever he may send you

May he guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm,

May he bring you home rejoicing at the wonders he has shown you,

May he bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

Be with you and remain with you and all those you love, today and always.

Amen