Sunday Service 12th July 2020
Today is Action for Children Sunday. We follow the lectionary readings and theme but remember the children Action for Children cares for in our prayers.
Hymn 666 Master speak, thy servant heareth
Master speak! Thy servant heareth,
waiting for thy gracious word,
longing for thy voice that cheereth;
Master, let is now be heard.
I am listening, Lord, for thee;
what hast thou to sat to me?
Speak to me by name, O Master,
let me know it is to me;
speak, that I may follow faster,
with a step more firm and free,
where the Shepherd leads the flock
in the shadow of the rock.
Master speak! Though least and lowest,
let me not unheard depart;
Master, speak! For thou knowest
all the yearnings of my heart,
knowest all its truest need;
speak, and make me blest indeed.
Master speak: and make me ready,
when thy voice is truly heard,
with obedience glad and steady
still to follow every word.
I am listening, Lord, for thee;
Master, speak! O speak to me!
Prayer (for Action for Children Sunday by Rev Jonathan Hustler)
Loving God, you have called us to be your people and to share in the ministry of your Son. Grant us, we pray, ears that are open to the cries of those in need, hearts that are eager to respond, voices that are ready to speak out for the oppressed, and hands that are active in sharing your bounty. In the name of Christ our Lord. Amen
Old Testament Isaiah 55.10-13
New Testament Romans 8.1-11
Gospel Matthew 13.1-9, 18-23
Hymn 155 Come Holy Ghost, our hearts inspire
Come, Holy Ghost, our hearts inspire,
let us thine influence prove;
source of the old prophetic fire,
fountain of life and love.
Come, Holy Ghost, (for moved by thee
the prophets wrote and spoke),
unlock the truth thyself the key,
unseal the sacred book.
Expand thy wings, celestial Dove,
brood o’er our nature’s night;
on our disordered spirits move,
and let there now be light.
God through himself we then shall know,
If thou within us shine;
And sound, with all thy saints below,
The depths of love divine.
So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty. Isaiah 55.11
“That was a waste of breath!” I wonder if you’ve ever said or thought that? I think it is probably a common experience that we’ve tried to tell someone something very important or to their benefit yet they appear to ignore us. It was a waste of time talking to them. Possibly we may well feel that telling people about God or trying to encourage them to explore the Christian faith is a waste of breath. How many times have we plucked up the courage to say something and been completely ignored or worse? When I was in my first Circuit one of my chapels was struggling to maintain their Sunday School. It was faithfully led each week yet very few children came. And even when there had been larger numbers attending in the past it seemed to have little lasting effect. “Of all the children who’ve been to our Sunday School not one of them has ever become a member,” was something that I often heard. Yet in Isaiah God says ‘So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty.’ God’s word is powerful and accomplishes its purpose and like the prophet Isaiah we speak God’s words. So why does it seem as though what we say fails to reach people?
We begin to get a clue in Matthew’s retelling of the Parable of the Sower. Jesus tells a story about a sower who went to so seed in his field. As we read through the parable so much of the seed goes to waste. Yet despite this waste the emphasis in the parable is on the seed that actually grew and produced a harvest, “Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!” The interpretation of the parable then indicates that the seed is the word of God. The sower faithfully sows the word but it not responsible for the outcome. God does not force people to respond to him and many people choose not to. Yet there are people who do respond and these produce a rich harvest.
So what about my chapel and the fruitless Sunday School? I was asked to take someone’s funeral. It was someone I didn’t know and her husband confirmed that neither he nor his wife had ever been chapel goers. But when I met their daughter I had a surprise. She told me she was a Methodist and a Circuit Steward! I asked her how she had become a Methodist. She replied that when she was a child she had been sent every Sunday to the Sunday School in the chapel where I was minister. She had stopped going as a teenager but when she had moved away from home for work she had thought back to her childhood connection with chapel and had gone along one Sunday to the local Methodist Church! So there was at least one child from that Sunday School who had gone on to become a practising Christian and I suspect there may have been more.
We are called to ‘sow the seed’ then trust God for the results.
Prayers (by Alison Smith, Fostering Marketing Officer and Action for Children Christian Network)
Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, we ask that you bring healing to any child or young person who has been the victim of abuse or neglect. They are your children and have been called into your wonderful light.
Show them that you see them and know what they are going through. Show them that you are right beside them. No matter how terrible the situation, we pray that they will know that they can lean on you.
Open our eyes, Lord, to see any potential signs of abuse and remove every form of ignorance from us. Give these children and young people hope and provide healing in their body, soul and mind. Ease their suffering, Father, and cause a complete restoration in their lives. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Hymn 506 My heart is full of Christ, and longs
My heart is full of Christ, and longs
its glorious matter to declare!
Of him I make my loftier songs,
I cannot from his praise forbear;
my ready tongue makes haste to sing
the glories of my heavenly King.
Fairer than all the earth-born race,
perfect in comeliness thou art;
replenished are thy lips with grace,
and full of love thy tender heart:
God ever blest! We bow the knee,
and own all fullness dwells in thee.
Gird on thy thigh the Spirit's sword,
and take to thee thy power divine;
stir up thy strength, almighty Lord,
all power and majesty are thine:
assert thy worship and renown;
O all-redeeming God, come down!
Come, and maintain thy righteous cause,
and let thy glorious toil succeed;
dispread the victory of thy cross,
ride on, and prosper in thy deed;
through earth triumphantly ride on,
and reign in every heart alone.
Please continue to pray for the work of Action for Children during this week.