Sunday Service for the Welland Fosse Benefice 2nd August 2020 Trinity 8

Sunday Service for the Welland Fosse Benefice 2nd August 2020 Trinity 8

Sunday Service for the Welland Fosse Benefice 2nd August 2020 Trinity 8

 

 

Please click on the above link to watch the service.

 

The Boy with his packed lunch. The man, looks back Matthew 14:13-21

I remember that day so well. Jesus was coming to our area, around Capernaum. Everyone was talking about him, about the miracles he did, his speaking. Some said he had been sent by God, that maybe he was, the Messiah. I guessed some friends of mine might be going and I might tag along too. My Mum had been baking and said take some food with you. Your friends are not as fortunate as we are and would like some bread and take those fish you caught; I grilled them last night. So, I did. We boys could have a feast wherever we ended up, which turned out to be out in the wilderness out near Tagbah as we followed where Jesus came ashore. We all felt like our ancestors wandering in the wilderness for all those years. It was windy out there so I worked my way round so I could see Jesus and hear him on the wind. There were so many people, thousands, really and I soon lost my friends and forgot about my lunch. I hardly noticed the sun dipping. But Jesus’ helpers, disciples, did and suggested we were sent out to get some food. I was alright with my loaves and fishes – perhaps I could share my food with Jesus while others were out buying their own. Mum had told me his cousin John had just been killed. But, no Jesus said to the 12 disciples – you give them something to eat. What would happen? Would it be like when God provided manna and quails in the wilderness? The disciples came to us asking if we had brought any food. So, I put up my hand and showed tm the little loaves and the fish. They ushered me forward in front of this great crowd. No one else had brought anything and the disciples looked sad, but Jesus took my little loaves and small fish. He broke the bread like the priest does in the Temple and prayed the Berakah “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who bringest forth bread from the earth.” The bread was broken and blessed and then the disciples, not Jesus came around everyone and fed every one of us. Elisha had once fed 120 men with a few small loaves but there were thousands of us and just those 5 loaves that had been broken and two fish.

Broken; Later I would learn that Jesus’ body was broken on a cross, executed by the Romans, broken for the sins of the world, my sins, your sins and my mind was drawn back to that miraculous day in the wilderness. On that day it was broken, we had enough to eat and wow, were we full  So full that when the disciples cleared up there was sufficient to fill 12 man sized baskets, taller than I was back then – all from my 5 loaves and 2 small fish. No one went away hungry and the leftovers were enough to feed folk in the little communities nearby, the next day. Because the bread was blessed, broken and distributed we were all filled for the day. But the next day I was hungry again and ate and the next day and so on. Jesus said “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” My small loaves fed us all for a day, with the fish. Jesus feeds us forever.

I understand in your modern world you have not been able to celebrate eucharist and break the bread as we do and I am sorry for that but you have been filled with that bread and will be filled again, I am sure and what we have received already, feeds us and prepares us forever for eternal life with Jesus. I may not have had my one to one meal with Jesus that day with my 5 loaves and 2 fishes but everyone, including my friends, wherever they’d got to were able to be fed because of God’s love and compassion for us. Was that a miracle? Well yes, I guess it was. There were many miracles that day, people healed, lives changed but this feeding was special because it changed all of us. Not because we were no longer hungry but because Jesus had shown his love to all of us and used his followers to distribute and share that love as all of us were fed.

And Jesus still does just the same. He still loves us, still feeds us and still uses his followers to go out and give life for the world. He still mends broken hearts and fills empty lives and blesses us all and uses his followers to distribute and deliver that grace, as he did on that day in the wilderness, symbolised in that mosaic you have seen, which is still there in my home church in Tagbah. So, will you, as followers of Jesus deliver and distribute the love of Jesus like those disciples did with my packed lunch? I hope so. Amen

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.

 Sunday 2nd August 2020:  Trinity VIII

  • Please remember in your prayers those who are sick: Bishop John and his wife and Janette Saunders (all with Coronavirus), Barry Broughton, Betty Tyler, Graham Robinson, Catherine Tanser, and Derek Barker.
  • Pray too for those who have died, giving thanks especially for the life of David Bagshaw.
  • We pray also for all those who put their lives in danger to serve others suffering from Coronavirus and for those who have lost their jobs in the crisis.
  • Zoom services continue throughout the week, including Sunday, 10am (via sialey@aol.com) but today we continue our gradual return to church with worship at South Luffenham, 11am and next week at Duddington when face masks will be obligatory.
  • Zoom bible studies in St. Mark’s Gospel will continue on Tuesday 4 August at 7.30pm.

 

SOUTH LUFFENHAM

The church is open for private prayer every day 10am to 4pm.

The foodbank tubs will be collected on Wednesday morning this week – thank you to anyone who has already made a contribution.

The RCC Coffee Van will be in the carpark of The Boot on Monday 3rd August 10.45-12.30. Get a free drink and take it across to the village hall for a chat!

MORCOTT

The church will open 10am-4pm each Sunday for private prayer. 

 

THIS WEEK’S MEDITATION:

Who would be a Prime Minister, especially in this pandemic! He can’t do right for wrong.  In the last 72 hours, huge changes have been announced to protect the country even though those in Spain will be annoyed, to say nothing of the Muslims in the North-West, about to celebrate Eid together. Rudderless?  Based on the science? Such are the reactions to our present course through the pandemic. But the pandemic itself has swept away so much of what we rely upon: routines, jobs, income, friendships – even the lives of loved ones.  Our Prime minister, exuberant as always, will have had cause to consider the foundations of his own life as he lay in his hospital bed whilst others did for him what he would not himself do.

 

Where then can we look for security? Houses, friends, investments in the end will all be swept away.

Adherents to the major faiths have always stated their reliance upon God, their rock. When all else is stripped away, what is left?  Some might answer, ‘nothing’, ‘oblivion’. I can’t go that far simply because the glory and intricacy of this life as we know it must have some intelligent force behind it – a force with a purpose.  For Christians, that purpose is to live with and depend on the knowledge of God.

 

During this pandemic, many of us have been praying the late night Office of Compline.  One of its regular psalms is Psalm 91 which stresses dependence upon God. ”Thou are my hope and my stronghold. My God, in him will I trust.” Not a bad thought to carry off to bed with!

 

God expresses his concern for us in many ways: though politicians, scientists, family and so many others upon which our daily lives depend.  But these are stripped away as we pass through life. Happy the person who can develop that dependence upon God along-side all these other securities! They will fade but God remains our rock.

See wellandfosse.org for much more information, including contact details for

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens

The Fishing Net. Trinity 7, Sunday 26 July 2020.

The Fishing Net. Trinity 7, Sunday 26 July 2020.

The Fishing Net.

Trinity 7, Sunday 26 July 2020.

The Pandemic.

This pandemic has raised some serious questions about the church. Is it locked?  If it’s not the building, then what?  Is it the people gathered on Zoom or those who wait for the church to be re-opened?

Jesus also toys with this question as he explains what the church should be like to his apostles, most of whom were fishermen. He says that the earthly expression of the Kingdom of God is like a fishing net that catches both good and bad fish. This then seems a good moment for us to consider what the church is.

Characteristics of a Church.

I used to run a college chaplaincy. The students were great fun: passionate, outrageous, devout, exhausting.  They came to chapel in good numbers on a Sunday, bringing with them all sorts of musical and theatrical skills. But was it a church?  That worried me. Geraldine and I were often the only people over 30 and it felt unbalanced in terms of age.  So we encouraged staff members to attend, which they did willingly. Immediately the atmosphere changed. It was still passionate, outrageous and exhausting but also with a gravitas which all of us appreciated.

  1. We are all agreed that Church is not just the building, though the building is important. Is it like the pub, which gives shelter to those thirsting for a pint or a meal? Or is it like Waitrose, which caters for a particular class of shopper? Or a political party, with a specific agenda – ‘The Tory Party at Prayer’, for instance?

Our hymn for today –‘Teach me My God and King’, No. 690 – Helps us to clarify our notion of The Church.  It was written by George Herbert, a 17th century clergyman from Salisbury.  He wrote it as a poem and included it in a collection of poems called ’The Temple’.

 In The Creed, we say that ‘The Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic’. In verse 1, Herbert illustrates the Oneness of The Church: it helps us to see the One God in everything and to adapt all that we do as if we did it for Him. So ‘Church’, at its best, helps us to concentrate every element of our lives on the One God.  It is here that we learn the language of God, refine our priorities, find encouragement from our prayers and one another to orientate our lives towards Him.  Do you say ‘Grace’ before any of your meals for instance, either privately or together?  That is a way of acknowledging One God who is even more revered than Delia Smith! We belong to one family in Christ.  Like all families, we have our disagreements. Thus many styles of church have sprung up but there is One Creed, One Baptism, One Eucharist – each of which illustrates the Oneness of God.

In verse 2 and 3 Herbert encourages us to look beyond the material to identify the Holy in our midst, both immediately, as in glass but also through it to the creator, symbolic of heaven beyond. It can lift our eyes and hearts so that we can ‘the heaven espy’. I think the bread from King’s Cliffe Bakey – sold locally in our shops – does just that for me.  The humble loaf is of such good quality! Furthermore, I visited the bakery just before it was transferred to Corby.  It was tiny, stuffed into the back room of a house in Main Street,Kings Cliffe. The baker sacrifices his sleep and rises early so that we could have fresh bread for breakfast! My mother lived through the last war and its restrictions.  She would be very critical if we even thought about throwing away our crusts.  They were precious, holy even.

The Church is also catholic – and here we come to the point of Jesus’ Parable of the Fishing Net, in which are to be found the good, the bad and the very smelly. In verse 3, Herbert says that we can all partake in God; nothing is too simple or unworthy. Furthermore, God’s tincture – God’s Holy Spirit – will improve us who devote our prayers and our lives ‘for thy (His) sake’. Rural church life tend to be non-selective.  There is only one church in a village so believers of all colours will come – unless they commute. We then miss that richness of variety.  We can also be a bit choosy ourselves, raising an eyebrow when someone unusual turns up.  As Ann demonstrated last week, we can also look out of place with our dusty souls and dubious morals. Who are we to cast the first stone? The Parable takes that into account.  The fish are not sorted until the end of the journey. Don’t let’s push the analogy too far but the bad ones may well be put back into the lake to live another day.

Finally, the Creed says that The Church is Apostolic, sent out. In verse 4, God’s servants find even the meanest job satisfying, like sweeping a room.  Far-fetched?  Well, sweeping up is not my favourite pastime but I do enjoy polishing! However, St. Theresa suggest that we can peel a potato to the glory of God.  All things can give him glory and those who feel that vocation to follow Christ often apply themselves more rigorously because it says something about Him. Some people find going that extra mile part of their personality. And why do they do it? Because God expects it of us and that attitude is both infectious and transformative. We must remember that The Church – its people as well as the building – is there to bring people to Christ. It is not an end in itself, however beautiful the building.  So is it doing its job?  Are we? The Parable asks some challenging questions.

Real or Virtual?

One Final thought. This Parable of the Fishng Net went down well in a coastal community.  However, Jesus then called the fishermen to lay down their nets and follow him to become fishers of men.  Imagine their shock  at leaving that comfortable way of life. They would be shocked, fearful, disbelieving that anything else could be so effective in harvesting souls.

We are about to be faced with the same challenge. Zoom worship has served us well during the lockdown.  True, it’s only second-best but for some, it is the only way. The house-bound, the shielding, the very poorly: do they not have a place too in God’s church?  How can we best encourage them as the lockdown eases?  Will they be abandoned? Amen.

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.  Sunday 26th July 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.  Sunday 26th July 2020

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.

 Sunday 26th July 2020:  Trinity VII

 

  • Please remember in your prayers those who are sick: Bishop John and his wife and Janette Saunders (all with Coronavirus), Barry Broughton, Betty Tyler, Graham Robinson, Catherine Tanser, David Bradshaw and Derek Barker.
  • We pray also for all those who put their lives in danger to serve others suffering from Coronavirus and for those who have lost their jobs in the crisis.
  • Zoom services continue throughout the week, including Sunday, 10am (via sialey@aol.com) but today we begin a gradual return to church with worship in Barrowden Church at 11am and next week (2nd August) at South Luffenham, 11am.
  • “5 More Steps to Kick-start Prayer”  Go to the benefice website: wellandfosse.org
  • Zoom bible studies in St. Mark’s Gospel will continue on Tuesday 28 July at 7.30pm.

 

SOUTH LUFFENHAM

Church is open for private prayer every day from 10am – 4pm.

There will be a service at South Luffenham next Sunday – 2nd August at 11am (not the usual 9.30am).

MORCOTT

The church will open 10am-4pm each Sunday for private prayer. 

 

MEDITATION:

I am not the best organised person and consequently spend (waste?) a great deal of time looking for things that never seem to be in the right place. Generally the thing I am looking for is something simple like a birthday card that I know I bought ages ago or a favourite mug. But sometimes the thing is really important, such as the insurance policies or a bill which needs paying.

You know what it’s like. You begin looking in the obvious places, then the maybe- places and eventually anywhere with a rising degree of panic. And so much time has passed but the sense of relief when it is found is almost overwhelming.

Many people find that they are unhappy with the way of life they live and want something more and better. During the lockdown situation many found themselves taking stock of their lives and wondering if indeed there was more than they had previously thought was sufficient. Many spend time searching within their hearts.

Jesus told stories about searching for the greatest treasure and then giving up everything to attain it. The first disciples left their families, homes and jobs to follow Christ because they believed they had found in him the deepest meaning for life and union with God. Many were persecuted and gave up their lives. What would we give up to follow Jesus?

Prayer: Help us to search for you, O Lord, and to follow you wherever you take us. Amen.

See wellandfosse.org for much more information, including contact details for

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens

SERMON SUNDAY 19TH JULY 2020

SERMON SUNDAY 19TH JULY 2020

TRINITY 6A

JULY 19TH 2020

The reading that we have just heard is one that was often used by fire and brimstone preachers. I was very tempted but decided to spare you that this morning. This parable is only told in Matthew’s gospel and would have been readily understood at the time. But what relevance does it have for us today? What do wheat and weeds mean to us?

It is a very uncomfortable parable and as I researched, it became even more difficult to think about! The wheat and the weeds are growing side by side in the field, the weeds having allegedly been put there by the enemy. But until the harvest is ready there is no way of distinguishing one from the other. They look the same until the ears appear when the wheat is a golden yellow and the ears of the weeds are black. If they are not destroyed then the flour will be toxic. At harvest the weeds will be separated and burnt. Hence the fire and brimstone if we accept that the weeds are the sinners.

And we all know who they are, don’t we? The murderers, the rapists, the robbers, the fraudsters etc. and we wonder why God hasn’t zapped some people already. But we go to church and we are good people. I used to know one lady who had her place in heaven booked and had no doubt that it was reserved for her! But what did Jesus teach about the fruits of the Spirit?But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) This is how we are supposed to live if we follow Christ. It is at this point that everything becomes very tricky.

We are very quick to judge others but we need to look at ourselves and compare ourselves to Christ. The result is not easy to bear. In the Confession we state: we have sinned in thought, word and deed. It is not enough to say that glibly and then go and not even try to produce the fruits of the Spirit. It would be lovely if we could buy Indulgences as in times past but we know that it is our hearts that need to be changed and we know that Christ died for us so that we could be saved from ourselves.

But all of us are part saints and part sinners and although we would like to think that the saintly bit has the upper hand it is up to each one of us to look deeply at ourselves. I began by stating that this parable is uncomfortable! If we all honestly examined ourselves, rather than each other and all the sinners had to leave, the church would be empty.

So why is this situation allowed? Why do we all have to grow together until the end? The servants wanted to pull up the weeds before the harvest was complete, when the crop could be first recognised with the weeds growing but the Master told them to wait for the ingathering. He told them to wait!

We are not used to waiting; we want things to happen when we want them to. God’s timetable is not the same as ours; but he is in control of the harvest. If we look at the people Jesus loved they included tax collectors, a hated group, and those who were regarded as not fit society members. His disciples were lowly folk, not great intellectuals; they didn’t understand, they doubted; they ran away, they lied about knowing him. They were like us and Jesus loves us warts and all!

Many people that we would discount on first glance, change their lives. In later

stages of his life Saul lead major persecutions against Christians, he did everything

within his power to stop the growth of Christianity by destroying groups of Christians,

putting Christians in prison in Jerusalem.

 

It was when he was on the way to Damascus to persecute more Christian believers,

that Christ appeared to him, which caused him to repent and become one of

the greatest evangelists of his day. Michael Franzese was born into a life of crime in

Brooklyn, New York. In 1985 he was indicted on 14 counts of racketeering, extortion, counterfeiting and was sentenced to ten years in prison but was released from prison after serving 43 months. In December, 1991 he was sent back to prison for his involvement in tax fraud. During his time in jail, he claimed he found Jesus and he summoned up the strength to walk away from the Colombo family which is a cardinal sin in the mafia. He now spends his life keeping teenagers out of a life of crime.

 We would have pulled these people up as weeds and thought we were right to do so. But God never gives up on people and that includes us, which is very fortunate; we are given time to come close to our Saviour. But patience is needed and God shows that to us. He knows everything about us. These few verses from Psalm 139 show this and the rest is worth reading later:

Lord, you have examined me and you know me.
You know everything I do;
    from far away you understand all my thoughts.
You see me, whether I am working or resting;
    you know all my actions.
Even before I speak,
    you already know what I will say.
You are all around me on every side;
    you protect me with your power.
Your knowledge of me is too deep;
    it is beyond my understanding.

  We do NOT know what is in the hearts of others and sometimes don’t know what our own hearts are like. We should be utterly thankful that God gives us all time to become more nearly the people he created us to be and we should ask to be more wheatlike than weedlike! A short poem to end by Annonymous

I dreamed of death the other night,

 And Heaven’s gate swung wide,

An Angel came with halo bright

 To usher me inside.

And there! To my astonishment

Stood folks I’d judged and labelled

 As “quite unfit”, “of little worth”

And “spiritually disabled.”

Indignant words rose to my lips,

But never were set free.

 For every face showed stunned surprise –

 Not one expected ME!

Amen.

READINGS FOR SUNDAY 19TH JULY 2020

READINGS FOR SUNDAY 19TH JULY 2020

Readings for this Sunday the sixth after Trinity

 

Gen. 28. 10 – 19a    Ps. 139. 1 – 11, 23 – 24     Rom. 8. 12 – 25  Matt. 13. 24 – 30,  36 – 43

BCP:  Gen. 4.  2b  – 15   Ps. 90.  12 – end  Rom 6. 3 – 11   Matt. . 20 – 26

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.  Sunday 19th July 2020: 

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.  Sunday 19th July 2020: 

The Welland-Fosse Benefice: Prayers and Notices.

 Sunday 19th July 2020:  Trinity VI

 

  • Please remember in your prayers those who are sick: Bishop John and his wife and Janette Saunders (all with Coronavirus), Barry Broughton, Graham Robinson, Catherine Tanser, David Bradshaw and Derek Barker.
  • We pray also for all those who put their lives in danger to serve others suffering from Coronavirus and for those who have lost their jobs in the crisis.
  • Zoom services continue throughout the week, including Sunday, 10am (via sialey@aol.com) but today we begin a gradual return to church with worship in Duddington Church at 11am and next week (26th July) at Barrowden, 11am
  • “5 More Steps to Kick-start Prayer”?  Go to the benefice website: wellandfosse.org
  • Zoom bible studies in St. Mark’s Gospel will continue on Tuesday 21 July at 7.30pm.

SOUTH LUFFENHAM

Church is open 10am – 4pm daily for private prayer.

MORCOTT

The church will open 10am-4pm each Sunday for private prayer. 

MEDITATION

Although this meditation runs counter to my sermon last week it might help understand this more tricky parable:

 

Suppose we are soil, the field.  Jesus has sown the word in us. It’s going to do its good work and bear fruit. That’s great.  But there is someone else at work, with bad motives. The “enemy” has snuck in when we weren’t looking and planted something else. The enemy’s plants are not the Word. The enemy’s plants will compete for the nourishing soil, the refreshing rain, and the warm light of the sun. The enemy’s plants will bear fruit too — rotten fruit maybe, or poisonous. 

 

What should a good and responsible soil do? Should we find some way to eject the weeds? Maybe call on those farm hands to help? Or do I take it as an explanation of why I have such an odd mixture in my life? Some things shine with virtue like Christ’s own image. Other things in my life — well, they are frankly weedy, rotten, and poisonous. 

 

Maybe this parable explains God’s own patience with my mixed character and behavior. God doesn’t just yank out all the problematic stuff. God doesn’t want to damage me or what is growing so well. God is busily, patiently, growing the good stuff. Maybe I just need to be the best and most patient soil I can be. I’ll accept the seed. I’ll accept the water and the sun. That is I’ll welcome the Word, listening and meditating on it, seeking to let it thrive and grow. But I’ll also realize that I’m not the farmer. My role is patient and receptive.

 

 

See wellandfosse.org for much more information, including contact details for

The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong and the churchwardens