THE VICAR PROVIDES FOOD FOR OUR SOULS A s 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.
FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY Readings: Isaiah, 55. 10-13; Psalm 65, 9-13; Romans. 8.1-11; Matthew, 13.1-9, 13-23. Collect Grant us, Lord, we beg you, the spirit to think and do always such things as be rightful; that we, who cannot do anything that is good without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
MATTHEW 13, VERSE 3. Listen! A sower went out to sow his seed. Why are you a Christian? Why have you ended up as being a follower of Jesus Christ? Because you responded to the gospel? Yes. Because you were called by God to follow his son? Yes. How did God call you to follow Jesus? How did you get to know about what Christianity was all about? You got to know what Christianity was all about because when you were younger you had good seeds planted in the soil of your heart. Other people sowed those seeds in your hearts. Those seeds were heavenly seeds, spiritual seeds. To be more explicit, those spiritual seeds were the words about God and Jesus, which others have planted into the soil of your heart long ago. The soil was fertile, and those seeds have sprung forth to enable you to grow and develop into a fruitful person. The debt we owe to those who sowed the heavenly seeds in our hearts is indeed immense. In my own case, it was my Aunty Doris, one of my Sunday school teachers, other Sunday school teachers, my Aunty Elsie and my local vicar. We have all got our own tales to tell. God wants us to plant heavenly seeds Now God wants you to continue the same work as those who planted heavenly seeds in your heart and mind long, long ago. He wants you to be a sower. Maybe you’ve have been a sower since a long time now. Keep on with the good work. Maybe you’ve never ever thought about it before, and thought it was the vicar’s job. It is not over dramatic to say that the very future survival of the Christian Church in Britain today depends on Christians rediscovering their role as sowers of good seed. Many of our churches are so empty because we haven’t been very successful as sowers. We’ve either not tried to be sowers, or else we’ve been planting poor quality seeds, nay rotten seeds, in the hearts and minds of others. God needs each one of us to take this call more seriously. If we don’t, before too long there’ll be nobody left in our churches. God is depending on us, including you, to plant his word in the hearts of others. He wants us to speak about him and his son Jesus at every God given opportunity. If we lack the confidence we can do our bit by being more persistent in inviting others to come along to church when it reopens or inviting them to watch a streamed service. If you feel totally inarticulate and inadequate with your tongue then by your practical actions sow seeds of love and kindness in the hearts and minds of others. Response Of course, not everyone will respond. Jesus knew that when he first told the parable of the sower. Sadly, many people are shallow or else worldly things take priority in their lives. They are like seeds planted on stony ground or choked by weeds. In many hearts the soil is rotten, arid and infertile. Nevertheless, there still is fertile soil out there awaiting for someone, waiting for you, to sow heavenly seeds. These seeds may well remain dormant for some considerable time, but, when God sees that the time is right, he will begin the process of growth in the life of the individual. Therefore be persistent and be patient. Harvest of souls Never forget how important it is for individuals to have God’s heavenly seed planted in their hearts. When Harvest time comes God will gather unto himself those who have received his word and have let it bear fruit in their lives. They and only they will enter into his heavenly barn and receive the blessing of eternal life.
INTERCESSIONS Heavenly Father you are a God of grace who welcomes your children to draw close to you despite our sinfulness. Thank you that in your great loves for us you sent Jesus into the world as our Saviour. May I follow him faithfully and make him known to others day by day. Loving Father, hear my prayer. Father God, you have appointed me to sow heavenly seeds in the hearts and minds of people so that some may take root and bear fruit in their lives. Forgive me the many times I have failed in this task through planting rotten seeds in the hearts of others. Purify and cleanse me within, so that I may plant good seeds that will promote the wellbeing of others and change their lives. Loving Father, hear my prayer. Lord God, look in your mercy upon all those who do not know you, or have wandered away from you, including family members and friends. Change their hearts to make them more willing to accept heavenly seeds planted in them, which in due time will bear fruit in their lives. Loving Father, hear my prayer Father, I bring before you all those who suffer in our world, through disease, poverty, cruelty, hunger or neglect. Comfort all broken people in my family, my church, and the wider community. As I commend the needy to your love I ask you to protect them, heal them, bless them and uphold them with your grace. Loving Father, hear my prayer. Lord, teach me always to use my days on earth wisely, by finding time for you, time for others and time for myself. Loving Father, hear my prayer. Father God, I bring my personal prayers before you…… Loving Father, hear my prayer. Thank you Lord for all who have planted heavenly seeds in my life and are now at rest. Be with me on my journey, and at the end in your mercy grant me eternal peace and receive me unto yourself in glory. Loving Father, hear my prayers, offered to you in the name of my Saviour and Advocate, Jesus Christ your Son, Amen.
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 finally lose not the things eternal; grant this, heavenly Father, for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Amen.
MATTHEW 11, VERSES 16-19.
Jesus said to the crowds: “Now, to what can I compare the people of this day? They are like children sitting in the marketplace. One group shouts to the other, ‘We played wedding music for you, but you wouldn't dance! We sang funeral songs, but you wouldn't cry!’ When John came, he fasted and drank no wine, and everyone said, ‘He has a demon in him!’ When the Son of Man came, he ate and drank, and everyone said, ‘Look at this man! He is a glutton and wine drinker, a friend of tax collectors and other outcasts!’”. Unfounded criticism How do you feel if somebody has criticises you unfairly? Not very happy, I’m sure. Yes, unfair and unwarranted criticism gets Christians down. No matter how hard you try you can never please some people. They’re nit-pickers. They simply enjoy finding fault, but usually are highly sensitive when they themselves are criticised. You can't win. Jesus faced unfair criticism too Jesus had to contend with unfair criticism during his entire ministry, including from the religious people and even from members of his own family people! It was unjust criticism that led to his crucifixion. On one occasion he became exasperated by some people’s critical attitude. He compared them to children to whom it is impossible to please. They found fault both with him and also with John the Baptist who were very different characters. Despite his austere lifestyle and piety, people found fault with John saying he had a demon. Jesus, on the other hand, was condemned for being a libertine, enjoying the good things of life and mixing with the wrong type of people. Jesus was really lost for words seeing that no matter what you do some people will always find fault. Three points to remember when we consider the subject of criticism 1. We should look at our own faults before we find fault with others When men wanted to stone a woman caught in adultery Jesus said: “Let he who is without fault cast the first stone.” On another occasion in the Sermon on the Mount he tells us: “First take out the log from your own eye then perhaps you will see well enough to see the speck in your brother’s eye.” We should look at our own faults before we find fault with others. There was once a hairdresser who was very critical. One day when a customer was having her hair done, the conversation came to holidays. “Where are you going on holiday?”, the hairdresser asked. “To Rome”, came the reply. “Oh, you’ll hate it”, said the hairdresser. “You’ll find the people unfriendly, the hotels are dirty, the food is dreadful and the scenery is boring.” “Never mind”, said the customer, “at least I’ll see the pope”. “I very much doubt it”, came the reply. A month later the customer returned to the shop. “How did you get on?” asked the hairdresser, “Dreadful, I bet.” “No, indeed,” said the customer, “we had a lovely time. The people were friendly, the hotel was fantastic, the food was marvellous, and the scenery breathtaking. Furthermore, we even got an audience with the pope.” “You got an audience with the pope! What on earth did he say to you?” “Oh”, said the customer, “as he was about to give me a blessing he looked down on my head and said, ‘Where on earth did you get your hair done?” Yes, before you find fault with others look at yourself first. 2. Learn to appreciate, praise and encourage rather than criticise Secondly, we should learn to appreciate the good that others do, and praise and encourage them rather than criticise and find fault with them. In so doing you will discover that you bring the best out of them, whereas constant criticism only brings the worst. 3. Don’t let the criticism of others detract you from doing good Finally, don’t let the criticism of others detract you from doing you. Jesus didn’t. No matter what others said, he didn’t let them put him off course. Neither should we. Remember, at the end of the day we are answerable to God for our actions, not other people. As long as we can go to bed at night knowing that we have done our best then our conscience should be clear.
A SHORT MEDITATION If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. If children live with hostility, they learn to fight. If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy. If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence. If children live with praise, they learn to appreciate. If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves. If children live lives with fairness, they learn justice. If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect. If children live with sharing, they learn generosity. If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
SHORT INTERCESSIONS Lord I turn to you in prayer remembering that we dare approach you because you are a God of grace who welcomes your children to draw close to you despite our sinfulness. Thank you that in your great loves for us you sent Jesus into the world as our Saviour. May I follow him faithfully and make him known to others day by day. Loving Father, hear my prayer. Lord forgive me the many times when I have let you down by finding fault in others, whilst failing to be aware of my own short comings. Teach me to be more willing to praise and encourage others rather than criticising them. Loving Father, hear my prayer. Heavenly Father, you have appointed your church to sow heavenly seeds in the hearts and minds of people, so that some may take root and bear fruit in their lives. Forgive me the many times I have failed in this task through planting rotten seeds in the hearts of others. Purify and cleanse me within, so that I may plant good seeds in the world. Loving Father, hear my prayer. I lift before you, O Lord, those who suffer in our world, through disease, poverty, cruelty, hunger or neglect. I remember all broken people in my family, my church, and the wider community. I commend them to your love and ask you to protect them, heal them, bless them and uphold them with your grace. Loving Father, hear my prayer. I pray for children in my family and in the wider community. Protect them from sickness and danger in school, in their homes and out in the community. I pray for all parents and grandparents and ask you to inspire them to love, guide and influence all young people in their families. Loving Father, hear my prayer. Father God, I bring my personal prayers before you…… Loving Father, hear my prayer. I thank you Lord for all who have influenced my life and are now in eternity. Be with me on my journey, and at its end in your mercy grant me eternal peace and receive me unto yourself in glory. Loving Father, hear my prayers which I offer up to you in the name of Jesus, and grant me your peace and blessing. Amen.
Adrian Teale June 2020.
Reverend Adrian Teale, The Vicarage, 10 Bryn Road, Upper Brynamman, Ammanford, Carms. SA18 1AU (01269) 822275