Online Services by Rev'd Chris & Bible Study

This week's can be found at Sunday 19th July Service

Hopefully this all finds you safe and well and beginning to emerge from some of the strictures of lockdown.

We continue to work to reopen our churches safely and our Church Council (PCC) is meeting this week to see if we can achieve this.

Work continues at St Peter's as we reach the final stages of the new hall. In All Saints' the organ is in pieces being repaired and scaffolding has been erected to attend to the West window - just in time for Wendy and Clive's wedding this afternoon. (Please pray for them)

In the meantime I shall continue to try and bring you a video-ed service each week. 

As usual, I have attached a copy of a transcript of Rev'd Jacky's homily which you might enjoy, (see below)

God willing, we should soon have more news on what the churches are going to be able to do in the coming weeks.

Please continue to stay safe, to pray for one another and know that each of you are loved.

Blessings

Chris

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 The Parable of the weeds among the wheat

 

This weeks Gospel reading follows on from last week and still has a focus on seeds and growing but it has a different meaning. Here we have the parable in two parts, which is a common pattern in Matthews Gospel.The first part is shared with the crowd and the second part, the explanation, is shared with the disciples. It is another opportunity for Jesus to teach the disciples who are still trying to understand his message about The Kingdom of heaven.

            Now last week Mike spoke from his garden and referred to the plants he and June, his wife, grow. They have beautiful plants, we even have some in our own garden, and they really understand and enjoy gardening. Today I am talking as someone who does not do gardening or understand it but I enjoy plants and LOVE Gods creation and see God in it all.

In our garden we have a patch of ground which has just been allowed to grow wild! The long grass is looking good but anything else is being choked by the rampant weeds we cannot get rid of, we are told it is called Mares Tail.

            The difference between the weeds in our garden and those in the parable is that the weeds in our garden were not planted there deliberately! Unlike the weeds in the parable which we are told were planted by the enemy, the devil, to cause trouble.

            The householder clearly understands about growing wheat and knows that at this stage in the growing process to pull the weeds out would cause damage to the wheat and even destroy it along with the weeds. Yet his servants were very eager to rip them up even at the risk of damaging the wheat! It is only when both are fully grown that they can be separated without damaging the wheat. Especially when the weeds that had been deliberately sewn resembled the wheat until it had fully grown.

            When I was younger, a long time ago, I used to have my own horse and helped to look after other horses too. In the fields where the horses grazed on lush grass a dangerous weed could also be found growing, its called Ragwortand it is indeed one to report to the authorities because it can kill horses. In the winter horses, and other live stock, are feed on dried grass, hay, and grass fields are left to grow, a bit like the patch of grass in my garden which I would not cut down and feed to animals. The fields are then harvested to make hay for the winter. When buying the hay one has to look very carefully at its quality to ensure Ragworthad not been cut unintentionally with it.

            It was and is therefore the farmers responsibility to weed out the Ragwort but with caution because it has to be weeded out at the right time or the seeds will spread and the following year the Ragwort would increase! Therefore, we know that weeding out something damaging has to be done at the right time, in the right way in order to minimise its negative effect.

            And so what does this have to say to us day? Well in this parable Jesus was speaking to the Jewish religion of his day and to those who were following his teaching. But he was reflecting on a much broader view, a world wide view of the kingdom of heaven breaking through and the future kingdom of heaven to come. He was being, as ever, outward looking, looking at the wider context of the world.

            Matthew was writing for and addressing the early developing Christian Church of his day with its challenging and complex relationships .

Both of them were challenging the communities to change their behaviours and attitudes towards their relationships within the body of believers, the religion and their world view which needed to make changes to the ways it was practising its faith and its relationship with those outside of their faith.

            There can be no doubt that Jesus brought about great challenges and changes  which still continue to challenge and change us today. As a result of the Covid19 pandemic the Church has been challenged to reimagine its self and have a more focussed view on the how it interacts with the wider world outside of the church buildings which for many still remain closed for public worship.

            Churches have sort to develop creative ways to reach out via social media and technology which has been embraced by many yet ridiculed by others within the church who wish to maintain the status quo. BUT! Now is the time for the Church to reflect on the way we continue to take this unexpected opportunity to rethink how we are to be the Church in our local communities, rather than risk just going back to the normdoing the same things we have done in the past.

            Our challenge to ourselves is to ask if we are going to be the wheat which will be open to grow and flourish and feed new life into the Church, what ever form that might be? Or are we going to be like the weeds which will choke new growth and become an obstacle or a stumbling block to the opportunity for flourishing because we only want things to stay the same?

This parable is clear that the wheat will be separated from the weeds in order for the wheat to feed new life and further Gods work for the kingdom of heaven both now and the kingdom still to come.

            But if I could also just give us a word of warning. It seems to me that the householder, the Son of Man, Jesus, knew not to give up on the weeds straight away. We need to take care of each other otherwise we are in danger of taking this analogy too far through not accepting people into the church, for fear they might be like the weeds,  and in so doing being exclusive when in fact we are called to be an all inclusive Church which loves and values all.

            Working together is what is needed and not against each other. We have seen it happen in churches where they become divided among themselves and churches then seem to die. There is that old saying united we stand but divided we fall! We, the local church, the local churches and the world wide Church need to unite together to further the kingdom of heaven here on earth and to look forward to the future kingdom of heaven to come by being of great courage to pick up the challenge to change.

            We live in a world that seems to be chocking itself through things that can lead us astray to become selfish and self-centred. Yet we can see that the world has been breathing so much better because there has been less pollution due to us not using cars and plans. People have been less inwardly focussed on them selves and more focussed on the needs of others around them. We have become more aware and more thankful for those simple necessities in life like the love of our families and friends, fresh water and food, the community and environment we live in.

Let there be something positive that comes out of this awful heartbreaking Covid19 tragedy. Let us not get so caught up in rushing back into the way things were. But let us use this as an opportunity for positive change.

            And so today, let us be brave and take courage to be challenged and changed by this opportunity to really rethink what we are doing and why and look to developing the Church for the next and future generations. Otherwise like the weeds our church buildings will become empty and churches will wither and die. AMEN