THE VICAR PROVIDES FOOD FOR OUR SOULS As we are not able to meet together on Sundays to praise God and hear his Word due to the coronavirus pandemic, I am providing weekly sermons on line as food for our souls. Please read them and meditate upon them. If you know of anyone who would appreciate a paper copy as they are not online, please inform me and I will arrange for it to be delivered to their home. Meditation for the Seventh Sunday of Easter- May 16 [Readings: Ezekiel 36, 24-28; Psalm 1; Acts 1, 15-17,21-26; John, 17.6-19] Collect O God the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: we beseech you, leave us not comfortless, but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. The Gospel according to Saint John, chapter 17, verses 6 to 19. Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ’Father, I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.’ John 17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. The High priestly prayer Before our Lord's passion according to John's gospel, Jesus enters into prayer with his father. Known as the highly priestly prayer, Jesus, our great high priest, makes petitions to the Father. Selfless to the end, he does not pray for himself or his own needs, but for his followers. His prime desire is for their unity, and that they would be protected from evil. As a church in order to have a positive influence in our world it is of great importance that there are no divisions amongst its members but that we display complete unity. United we stand, divided we fall. People called to be different In the prayer Jesus also refers to his followers as being “not of the world” since they became his disciples. They were called to be different. Are we different? If Jesus were to return today and take a look at us in our churches in Britain would he say the same words?: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” I very much doubt it. For the truth of the matter is when we look at the church in Britain today, by and large we see a worldly church; an institution that is no different to any other institution. In many places, instead of being a spiritual hot house it’s become a den of decadence. We have become too secular, taking our cue from the world instead of from God. We are more influenced by what we read in the newspaper or see on the television than in God’s Word. Haven’t we become like a sheet of blotting paper, absorbing the world’s values and standards? Haven’t our beliefs become diluted and our moral teaching blurred and confused? Aren’t many of the activities that go on in a lot of our churches today not specifically spiritual and specifically Christian? In many arenas of church administration such specific Christian principles such as justice and fairness are nowhere to be found. We compromise with the world too much. God wants us to be different As God's people wants us to be different to others and to stand out from the crowd. What type of church does God want? God wants an unworldly church, made up of men and women who are different: 1. A church made up of Christians who are wholeheartedly committed to the Lord Jesus Christ and puts him at the centre of its existence. 2. A church comprised of a loving caring fellowship of believers. 3. A church that does not dilute its core beliefs and values in order to make them more palatable or acceptable in our secular society. 4. A church that does not seek popularity by refusing to absorb the world’s moral standards and upholds traditional moral teaching. When we absorb our values and outlooks from the world and in so doing conform to the world’s standards, we end up being no different to others and let Jesus down. But God wants us to be different. 5. A church that seeks after holiness. “But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God—who chose you to be his children—is holy. For he himself has said, "You must be holy because I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15-16). Conclusion: be different God wants us to be different, no matter the cost. In order to be different we should not let the world change and influence us but God.
Prayer for the week God of love, your Son, Jesus, has made you known and we are yours. Protect us from the evil one and sanctify us in your truth so that we can be sent out to proclaim your love and the glorious resurrection of your Son. This we ask in the power of the Holy Spirit. Alleluia. Amen. Adrian Teale, May 2021.
Meditation for the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Rogation Sunday) - May 9 [Readings: Isaiah 55, 1-11; Psalm 98; Acts 10, 44-48; John, 15.9-17] Collect God our redeemer, you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son: grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his continual presence in us he may raise us to eternal joy; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Book of the Prophet Isaiah, chapter 55, verses 1-11 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. Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55, verse 6. Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near. We seek God because he is waiting for us. In chapter 55 of the Book of the prophet Isaiah we hear the prophet exhorting his contemporaries to seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near. Isaiah takes it for granted it is possible to come into contact with God. It is not a futile exercise. However, we must always bear in mind that we can never ever find God simply through our own endeavours since he is invisible and over and beyond us. We seek him out because he chooses to make the first move and is already waiting for us to come into contact with us. When we begin a search to find God we are simply setting out to meet God a tenth of the way. Transcendence and holiness of God. When we seek God we are seeking one who is totally different to us, or any other thing or being. He is a holy God. He is wholly other, and is over and above us, We are told in Isaiah : “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Is. 55, 8-9). When we seek out God it is not the same as finding a lost object, or a rare insect or finding a destination from a map. He is completely different to any other being. It is an awe inspiring experience! God is imminent. Where is God to be found? Some say he is uniquely present in certain places such as holy shrines and places. They go on pilgrimages to special places such as Lourdes, Rome or Walsingham. Others believe that God is uniquely present in church, in particular the sanctuary. The truth of the matter is that God is everywhere. Mae Duw yn llond pob lle, presennol ymhob man. Isaiah tells us to call upon him while he is near. He reminds us that, although God is over and above us, yet at the same time he is imminent, he is near at hand. If he wasn't we'd never be able to find him. There is nowhere where God is not. Biblical illustrations. In the Bible we see people being confronted with the living God in a host of different places, from fine temples to ordinary homes, from lofty mountain tops to barren wildernesses. For example, Moses meets God in the wilderness and at a mountain top, whilst Isaiah himself finds the holy God in the temple. Likewise with Jesus. After the resurrection the disciples experienced Jesus at a tomb, in the upper room, out on the road, in a meal and on the seashore. You cannot pin God down and tell him he must appear in a special place at a specific time. He's an unpredictable God. C.S. Lewis found God at the top of a double decker bus on the way to Headington. A tale is told of a woman who spent almost the whole of her life travelling the world in pursuit of God. Sadly for her, she did not find him. She returned home a sad and dejected woman. The following day, she went out for a walk. Out in the country she met a stranger. She gazed into his face. She was dumb-struck. It was the face of God. Constant discovery Finally, we must remember that when we find God and experience his love and his grace it is not a once and for all experience, but is a continual process of discovery. Evangelicals often refer to finding faith as finding God, implying that that initial experience is the be all and end all. It is not. It is merely the beginning of a voyage of discovery. God is so big that we cannot find out everything about him and take everything in about him in one go. Others seem to think that they know more about God that he knows himself. They try to bring him down to their level and obviously have no awareness of the holiness and transcendence of God. You cannot capture him and examine him under the microscope. As we journey through life we continue to find God in new and exciting ways. Moreover, it is important to note that even at the point of death we still have got a lot to learn about God since we only catch a glimpse of his power and majesty in this world of ours. Conclusion. Seek God out and deepen your relationship with him.
INTERCESSIONS Let us turn to God in prayer, knowing that he always listens to those who speak to him. Lord God, our Creator, you have made our beautiful world and all that exists. You have planted us in our world and provide for all our needs. Look in your mercy upon all farmers and all who till the soil. Prosper their labours, and bless our land with seasonable weather so that we may have an abundant harvest of crops. Creator God, hear our prayer. Sovereign Creator, we thank you for the good earth you have given us to provide for our needs. Give us the wisdom to care for it and conserve it for future generations. Creator God, hear our prayer. King of peace, you have planted us into your world to love and care for each other, but we fail to live up to your expectations of us. Turn the hearts of all wicked people who foster hatred and warfare, and teach us all to love one another as you love us. Loving God, hear our prayer. Lord God, you have planted the church in the world to bear witness to your Son, Jesus. Guide your people with your Holy Spirit as we endeavour to make him known by word and deed. We pray for our Bishop and for all the clergy and people in our diocese of Saint Davids as together we strive to meet the challenges of the present time. Mighty God, hear our prayer. God our Ruler, we ask you to guide and uphold Elizabeth our Queen, and all in authority. Grant wisdom to our political leaders, including those just elected, as they tackle serious economic problems facing our nation. Help them to be motivated by justice and charity in all their doings. Sovereign God, hear our prayer. Father God, we pray for our local community and all who live here. Enfold all residents in your love and draw to you those who are spiritually asleep. Father God, hear our prayer. Compassionate God, we commend to your care all who are aged and infirm, those who are hungry and homeless, and those who are suffering and weak. Merciful God, hear our prayer. In silence we offer our personal petitions to you. Listening God, hear our prayer. God of love, give us the strength and courage to go and bear fruit for you, so that our friends, families and communities can know you. Help us to keep your commandment and to love one another as you have loved us. Let us encourage others to do likewise. Tender Father, hear our prayer. Lord, we thank you for the witness of your saints who have influenced our lives. Help us all to follow in their footsteps by being faithful to your Son, Jesus, so that we may enter into your eternal kingdom. Eternal God, hear our prayers which we offer up to you in Jesus’s name. Amen. Adrian Teale, May 2021.
Reverend Adrian Teale, The Vicarage, 10 Bryn Road, Upper Brynamman, Ammanford, Carms. SA18 1AU (01269) 822275