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Weekly Bible Study Notes and Worship Resources for Ordinary 14

Year C, Colour = Green


 Ordinary 14 Year C

Introduction

Jesus loved children, he welcomed them and blessed them. Yet he expected his followers to become spiritual adults and take on the responsibilities appropriate for adult and mature Christians. Sadly many Christians do not mature in their faith, they remain as infants in their faith and refuse to face up to the duties which being a disciple bring. The words of Jesus in the Gospel passage today are a wake up call and a command by him that we must be a part of his mission imperative to the world.

People often think of their faith from the point of view of what they can get out of it. Prayer is sometimes seen as a way of asking God for things for ourselves and others; the gift of material blessings or good health. Such immaturity leads to great disappointment when we do not receive the things from God that we imagine his benevolence will prompt him to shower upon us. In the passage today Jesus gives a clue to the kinds of prayer that Christians should be concerned with—the mission of the church, commitment of Christian workers. The prayer we are encouraged by Jesus to make is for the spiritual needs of others to be met, not our own.

Opening Verse of Scripture   Matthew 11:28

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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."

Collect Prayer for the Day—Before we read we pray

Servant Lord, grant us both the opportunity and the will to serve you day by day. May all that we do and how we bear each other's burdens be our offerings of love and service to the glory of your name. Amen.  Methodist Worship

Boundless, O God, is your saving power; your harvest reaches to the ends of the earth. Set our hearts on fire for your kingdom and put on our lips the good news of peace. Grant us perseverance as heralds of your Gospel and joy as disciples of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.  Amen.   Methodist Worship

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified : hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people, that in their vocation and ministry they may serve you in holiness and truth to the glory of your name; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy  Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Common Worship

Almighty God, send down upon your Church the riches of your Spirit, and kindle in all who minister the gospel your countless gifts of grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Common Worship

 

First Bible Reading    Isaiah Chapter 66:10-14

"Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her. For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance." For this is what the LORD says: "I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem." When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass; the hand of the LORD will be made known to his servants, but his fury will be shown to his foes.

Second Reading  Galatians Chapter 6:7-16

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.

Gospel Reading   Luke 10:1 -11,16-20

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. "When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.' If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. "When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God is near you.' But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.'
"He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."


Post Communion Prayer

Grant, O Lord, we beseech you, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by your governance, that your Church may joyfully serve you in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
 


Commentary

Jesus loved children, he welcomed them and blessed them. Yet he expected his followers to become spiritual adults and take on the responsibilities appropriate for adult and mature Christians. Sadly many Christians do not mature in their faith, they remain as infants in their faith and refuse to face up to the duties which being a disciple bring. The words of Jesus in the Gospel passage today are a wake up call and a command by him that we must be a part of his mission imperative to the world.

People often think of their faith from the point of view of what they can get out of it. Prayer is sometimes seen as a way of asking God for things for ourselves and others; the gift of material blessings or good health. Such immaturity leads to great disappointment when we do not receive the things from God that we imagine his benevolence will prompt him to shower upon us. In the passage today Jesus gives a clue to the kinds of prayer that Christians should be concerned with—the mission of the church, commitment of Christian workers. The prayer we are encouraged by Jesus to make is for the spiritual needs of others to be met, not our own.

As I speak with other ministers from many different churches, it is clear that much of our time as churches is taken up with spiritual babies in our congregations. These are people who are more bothered with church furniture, the tunes which are set to hymns, or perhaps some other concern about liturgy. We all need to take seriously this teaching of Jesus that our motivations and our prayers should be directed towards the important business of spreading the Gospel and changing the world, not making our church club run along the lines which most suit our personal tastes. There is a need to be personally self-critical in prayer, seeking God’s direction as to how we might see his mission take root in our lives and the lives of others.

As Christians we are supposed to be ‘new creations’ people who accept a different set of priorities. Our own desires are to take a back seat and instead we are to set about serving our Lord. This message is a hard one to accept, especially in a society where people are used to getting what they want. However we must keep working at it, asking God to make known to us how we might serve. This might seem a difficult path with the chances of our lives being changed in ways which we would find less appealing. Jesus knew this and he warned his disciples that he was sending them out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Undoubtedly those who offer themselves for service must be prepared to take risks and face a future which is outside their control. However it is only in this kind of service that we will ever find real fulfilment and satisfaction.

A few years ago I visited the Dead Sea, it is fascinating and interesting. At over 1300 feet below sea level it receives water from floods which occur around and from the River Jordan which flows into it. Evaporation takes places but there is no outlet. This means that the Dead Sea is a concentrated mix of 35% salt with many different and minerals. It is almost impossible to resist the tourist thing and get into the water to float and cover yourself with mud. Of course you will never sea a fish, only microscopic bacteria have ever been found to live in the sea. The Dead Sea is a warning to us all of the dangers of stagnation. If we receive and have no outlet we too will become a place of death. If we are prepared to allow God’s grace to flow through and out of us, then we will be fresh and alive. Failure to offer a ‘grown up’ commitment to God will mean that true peace will be elusive—we reap what we sow. Charles Royden
 

Meditation

Puccini 

Composer Giacomo Puccini wrote a number of famous operas. In 1922 he was suddenly stricken by cancer while working on his last opera, "Turandot," which many now consider his best. Puccini said to his students, "If I don't finish 'Turandot,' I want you to finish it for me." Shortly afterwards he died. Puccini's students studied opera carefully and soon completed it. In 1926 the world premiere of "Turandot" was performed in Milan with Puccini's favorite student, Arturo Toscanini, directing. Everything went beautifully until the opera reached the point where Puccini had been forced to put down his pen. Tears ran down Toscanini's face. He stopped the music, put down his baton, turned to the audience and cried out, "Thus far the Master wrote, but he died." A vast silence filled the opera house. Toscanini picked up the baton again, smiled through his tears and exclaimed, "But his disciples finished his work." When "Turandot" ended, the audience broke into thunderous applause. No one at the premiere performance ever forgot that moment.

A Parody “Butt prints in the sand”. One night I had a wondrous dream. One set of foot prints there were seen. The foot prints of my precious Lord, but mine were not along the shore. But then some stranger prints appeared. I asked the Lord, “What have we here?” These prints are large and round and neat but Lord, they are too big for feet. My child he said in sombre tones. For miles I carried you alone. I challenged you to walk in faith but you refused and made me wait. You disobeyed, you would not grow; the walk of faith you would not know. So I got tired, I got fed up and there I dropped you on your butt. Because in life there comes a time when one must fight and one must climb. When one must rise and take a stand…or leave your butt prints in the sand.
 

Hymns

  1. Glorious things of thee are spoken (Tune Austria)
  2. I the Lord of sea and sky
  3. Judge eternal
  4. We have a gospel to proclaim
  5. Go forth and tell

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

representation of prayer as seed growing

"Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian.
If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die."

Prayers following the EU Referendum

Eternal God, Light of the nations, in Christ you make all things new: guide our nation in the coming days through the inspiration of your Spirit, that understanding may put an end to discord and all bitterness. Give us grace to rebuild bonds of trust that together we may work for the dignity and flourishing of all; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

A Litany of Reconciliation
Holy God, in whom we live and move and have our being, we make our prayer to you, saying, Hear us, Lord of life. Lord, graciously hear us.

Guide our nation in the days and months ahead to walk the paths of peace and reconciliation. Hear us, Lord of life. Lord, graciously hear us.

Give to our leaders wisdom and sensitivity to work for unity and the common good.
Hear us, Lord of life. Lord, graciously hear us.

Mend broken relationships and restore to wholeness whatever has been damaged by heated debate. Hear us, Lord of life. Lord, graciously hear us.

Sustain and support the anxious and fearful and lift up all who are dejected.
Hear us, Lord of life. Lord, graciously hear us.

With you, Lord, is the well of life and in your light do we see light. Hear us, Lord of life and peace: and make us whole. With you, Lord, is the well of life and in your light do we see light. Hear us, Lord of life:
Heal us and make us whole.

Lord our God, accept the prayers of your people and in your mercy look with compassion upon our nation, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayers

You are Sovereign of all. You created the world without national borders. You created us as one people on one planet. But we have divided and fractured, scattered and marginalized. Draw us together by the one Spirit. Draw us together in Your One Love. Draw us together, so that we might understand that Your love knows no bounds. For we are all part of Your beloved community; we all belong to You. In the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, we pray. Amen.

"I will thank (God) for the pleasures given me through my senses, for the glory of the thunder, for the mystery of music, the singing of the birds and the laughter of children… Truly, O Lord, the earth is full of thy riches! " --- Edward King (1829-1910) Bishop of Lincoln

God of fresh beginnings, you make all things new in the wisdom of Jesus Christ. Make us agents of your transforming power and heralds of your reign of justice and peace, that all may share in the healing Christ brings. Amen.

Father, may everything we do begin with your inspiration and continue with your saving help. Let our work always find its origin in you and through you reach completion. Amen

God of justice and love, your way commands our obedience. We can do nothing apart from the blessings you bestow. We offer our lives and these our gifts to You. We pray that the work of Your church may be enlarged, enriched and strengthened as it seeks to do your will and to show compassion, justice, and mercy in our world of need. Accept what we bring, and multiply its effectiveness, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Lord, save us from self-centredness in our prayers and help us to remember to pray for others. May we be so lovingly absorbed with those for whom we pray that we may feel their needs as keenly as our own, and intercede for them sensitively, with understanding and imagination. We ask this in Christ’s name. Amen (after John Calvin 1509-64)

Whether I fly with angels, fall with dust,/ Thy hands made both and I am there: / Thy power and love, my love and trust / Make one place everywhere. (George Herbert 1593-1633)

Create within us, O God, a longing to obey your commandments and a thankfulness for all your mercies. Let us honour you in the thoughts of our hearts, let us glorify you in the words we speak and let us magnify you in the things that we do; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen John Wesley (1703-1791)

Additional Resources

Commentary

Farmers always seem to moan about the weather, whatever the weather! Timing the right procedures to coincide with the appropriate weather is the difference between crop failure and success, between starvation and plenty. When Jesus used the metaphor of His missionaries as being like harvesters, he was conveying to His hearers the importance and absolute urgency of their task. If the Kingdom was to be advanced, if the message of salvation was to be spread, the missionaries had to work hard and fast, with the desperate speed of farmers gathering the crops before rain. The blood of the eager disciples must have chilled to hear themselves described as being like lambs in the midst of wolves. This simile speaks of dangers to the body and the soul and of their helplessness to defend themselves from it. And so the disciples are both powerful and important because of the imperative nature of their call, but at the same time weak and vulnerable. Jesus was pointing up the great truth that both their power and their safety was not of themselves, did not depend on them, but on the love and power of God, the Holy Spirit. We also need the reminder that everything we have comes from God and that only He can guard us from the dangers, spiritual and moral which surround us. Joan Crossley

Commentary

The seventy-two disciples were thrown into the deep end by Jesus, no doubt feeling rather like lambs set free amongst a pack of wolves (Luke 10:3) as they set out without even the basic equipment for travelling. Of course, we quickly, realise that the point behind doing this was to make them walking advertisements for the truth they were proclaiming: the presence of the Kingdom of God. If God could heal the sick through their hands, then God would surely protect and provide for them. It also meant that those people who gave hospitality to these messengers were also becoming involved in, and so part of, the mission and thus obtaining the peace which the messengers were bringing from God (verse 6).

Not all approaches to mission adopt this method, but the principle of the walking advertisement is essential. If we look at the Galatians reading, then we can see that Paul is also a walking advertisement for 'The Way' as Christianity was first known. However, Paul follows a different pattern in his missionary activities: he refused to accept hospitality from the people he visited, but insisted on supporting himself. However, the reason he gave for adopting this approach actually turned it into an advertisement. For Paul, the gospel was good news, and he wanted to preach it to everyone and make him or her aware that it came free of charge (1 Corinthians 9:14-18).

Of course, not everyone will be called to a travelling mission of the type contained in Luke, but the principle of the walking advertisement does apply to us. We can all look outwards, as Paul wrote in today's Epistle reading: 'While we have opportunity, let us do good to all, particularly to those who belong to the household of faith' (verse 10). He warned the Galatians against a bad method of doing mission, exemplified I his opponents, who had been trying to persuade the Galatians to be circumcised: 'They want you to be circumcised, so that they may boast in your flesh!' (verse 13). Scalp-hunting, gong-hunting, call it what you will, is bad mission. However, Paul himself promoted a different model. Paul was so much in love with Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour, so aware of the new creation which he had experienced through Christ, that he could not keep silent about the cross: he simply had to boast about it (verses 14-15). He spoke the peace of the missionary on all who would live by this rule (verse 16).

For many of us, our opportunities are limited, just as they were for the little Israelite slave girl who served Naaman's wife, as found in the Old Testament reading set for today. How much did a slave's opinion count in the affairs of nations? However, the slave-girl knew what she knew, and she did not keep silent, because she loved the people she served, even though they had forcibly taken her away from her own family and country. 'If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy' (verse 3). He integrity and genuineness shone so brightly that the great commander believed her, and set off, willing to spend a fortune. She was truly a walking advertisement.

Well, what about us as walking advertisements? We can start by reaching out to each other, helping one another, bearing one another's burdens, to 'fulfil the law of Christ' (Galatians 6:2). But when we have learned to be able to do that, then there is a world of need waiting to feel our touch as we reach out in the name of Christ, whose cross can bring such hope in darkness.

The world still needs such walking advertisements, of people full of faith and love in Christ: people who are inspired by the vision of Isaiah 66: 10-14 (alternative reading for today)- of a world drawn out of hostility into comfort and love by the call of God in Christ. Can we become a better walking advertisement? The Reverend Peter Littleford

Prayer

Lord it is right and good to give you our thanks and praise, O God, for you have raised us up as a new creation and written our names in the book of life. You created the earth in your goodness and its plentiful harvest feeds your creatures. Through the law and prophets you revealed yourself as the God who heals us and makes us whole. Through Christ Jesus, whom you have robed in glory, you deliver us from the power of sin and death and send us as labourers into the harvest to proclaim your nearness, to immerse people into your healing waters, and to reap eternal life in your Spirit.

We pray to you Lord for your church and it's mission - the mission you have entrusted to us. Help us to be bold for you in the face of evil and injustice - and to show forth your healing power in the face of suffering and disease. Bless us as we share the good news of your love - that we may indeed be a blessing to others.

We pray to you Lord for the persons and situations that you have placed upon our hearts this day. Intercede, O Lord, and bring new hope, new joy, new life where it is needed. Send us as peacemakers and witnesses to your kingdom, and fill our hearts with joy in your promises of salvation; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Meditation

In the 1930s John Dillinger escaped from prison in the United States, having been found guilty of murder and robbery. The F.B.I. identified him as "Public Enemy Number One".

Knowing that the police and the F.B.I. had records of his fingerprints, he thought he would set about getting new fingerprints so that his presence would not be detected in future. He dipped his fingers and thumbs into a bowl of acid, and went through great pain until new skin grew. After a few weeks, Dillinger tested his new fingerprints—only to find that they were identical to his old ones. No-one else will ever have the same fingerprints as me. Fingerprints are a sign that each person is unique and individual.

Let us pray:

God our Father, you made each of us unique and unrepeatable. Inspire me to live in such a way that I respect others and am ready to learn from all who are part of my life this day. Amen.

Pope John Paul II has said:

"Before God, each human being is always unique and unrepeatable, somebody thought of and chosen from eternity."

Isaac Newton said:

"In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God's existence."

 

Meditation

Corrie ten Boom was arrested by the Gestapo in February 1944 and sent to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. Years later, while speaking in Church, she saw the former SS guard who had tortured and humiliated her sister. After the service he came up to her “smiling broadly and with outstretched hand “Thank you for the message” he said. “Jesus has washed my sins away”. Corrie was stunned into silence. She had preached forgiveness, but could she show it, feel it towards the person who had caused such harm to her sister? For a long moment, she paused, then prayed silently. “Lord Jesus, forgive me and help me to forgive him.” As she took his hand, Corrie felt an amazing current passing from herself to the former Gestapo guard and love filled her heart. So she concluded. “I discovered that when God tells us to love our enemies he gives, along with the commandment, the love itself.” (Corrie ten Boom)

 

Hymns

  1. Lord I come to you
  2. Give me joy
  3. For the beauty of the earth
  4. O God you search me
  5. Go forth and tell
  6. All Praise to our redeeming Lord. (St Lucius)
  7. Give me joy
  8. Immortal Invisible. (St Denio)
  9. For the beauty of the earth (England's Lane)