Home Service 30th July 2023

Prayers of Approach

Loving God, thank you for the wonder of our interconnected universe, sustained and held in being by your love. Tiny seeds nurtured by earth, that grow into great scrubs, sheltering creatures. Barely visible yeast cultures leavening flour for bread. Treasures that make life precious and joyful. Wisdom handed down to us, freshly understood. Your reign breaks in around us in so many ways; help us to see and rejoice.

Lord God, we leave worldly thoughts behind, and gather to seek your wisdom. Teach us kingdom values, we pray, so that we may grow in faith this day and always.

God, we thank you for teaching us the things that matter, the things of true value. We praise you that the treasures of your kingdom are hidden beneath the mundanity, and sometimes the drama, of everyday life; and that they are often there in small ways that, if nurtured, grow in abundance. Thank you for your pearls of wisdom and your seeds of faith. Let your Kingdom grow among us.


Hymn Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart (R&S 489)

Readings 1 Kings 3:5-12

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52


Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings points us towards the desirability of acquiring the wisdom to understand God’s words, including Jesus’ parables. It expresses a longing for God’s guidance, to know God’s will, in order to live well. Jesus speaks of the kingdom, rule, or will of God being accessible to those who seek it

Jesus tells parables that seek to convey what the kingdom of heaven is ‘like’ or ‘similar to’. Some are about the way it grows and spreads; others stress its value compared to anything else in life. The kingdom of heaven is like the seed that becomes a shrub, or yeast in a bowl of flour: a little goes a very long way. Like buried treasure or a priceless jewel, it is worth giving up everything to possess. But just as fishermen must sort their catch, so there will eventually be a sorting of good and evil.

The parables encourage us to slow down and open our eyes to notice the small signs of the treasures of God’s reign already around us. Jesus offers us images of God’s reign to help us recognise its presence like an unstoppable weed that can grow from tiny beginnings of love if we wait and trust.

Hymn Hear the call of the kingdom (MP 1282) https://youtu.be/WL-UdwB0Qvc


God was pleased with Solomon because he asked for wisdom to rule his people rather than for long life or riches for himself and as a result was given those things that he hadn’t asked for as well. During his reign Israel became a rich, powerful nation, and an important commercial centre on the trade routes between east and west. To maintain this position Solomon was very much a pragmatist, at times ruthlessly putting down enemies and at other times forging alliances, often by marriage as he took the daughters of powerful foreign sovereigns as his wives. Israel thus became a peaceful, prosperous, united nation whose borders reached their greatest extent during this period which was looked on as a ‘golden age’ by future generations.

Seeking wisdom, doing what is ‘right’ in the sight of God, is held up as the ultimate goal and matters more than wealth or even life itself. In the view of the writer of the book of Kings it is the key role of all kings. Unfortunately the one area in which Solomon’s wisdom failed him, the one thing which he failed to do, was to ensure that he had a strong successor to follow him. After his death everything fell apart and the kingdom split into two, the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.

By Jesus’ time the pursuit of wisdom was an important part of serving God and being a faithful Jew. Scribes and Pharisees, and Teachers of the Law all studied the scriptures avidly, seeking wisdom that they might be part of God’s kingdom. This pursuit of knowledge however restricted ‘wisdom’ to the scholars and those who had the time to read and study the scriptures and

the wealth of commentary that had developed around them. The only way into the kingdom and the only way to gain understanding of it is by long and arduous intellectual study.

Jesus however challenged this. His teaching by parables opened up a whole new way of understanding, ‘those who have ears, listen!’ By using images that were familiar to ordinary people Jesus showed that anyone could begin to understand and have the wisdom to discern the kingdom. ‘The kingdom of heaven is like… a mustard seed; yeast; treasure hidden in a field; a merchant looking for fine pearls; a net…’ they are all things to which people can relate. We are encouraged to look for signs of the kingdom in the details of our lives, planting seeds, baking bread etc. – and trust that God’s kingdom is around us and that God is working for good as surely as seeds grow and yeast makes bread rise.

The parables are messages of encouragement to a young church, the mustard seed and the yeast declaring how, from tiny, seemingly insignificant beginnings, the kingdom will grow. The mustard seed is tiny and easy to miss. Even when someone does plant it, it will take time to grow into a tree, big enough to be a home for birds – yet it is still there, growing at its own pace. The woman in the parable is working with huge amounts, three measures of flour would make an awful lot of bread, enough to feed the whole village. The amount of yeast is tiny, and it disappears into the flour as it is kneaded, and the dough takes time to rise – yet the baker can be confident that she will have bread to share.

The parables of the treasure and the pearl focus on the value of the kingdom and of giving up everything for it, something with which the disciples would have been very familiar. The parable of the fishing net uses an everyday scene as an analogy for the final judgement. Fisherfolk would throw away as little as possible, so it’s an optimistic view of judgement. Like the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the leaven, it presumes that God’s reign will include the many and exclude the few; It suggests that the kingdom is a ‘catch-all’ net, where good and bad coexist – a reflection of the disciples’ lived experience, then as now. It points to a future time when the kingdom will come fully and evil will be wiped out.

· Which picture of the kingdom of heaven means most to you? Why?

· How can you help the kingdom to grow?

Hymn Seek ye first the kingdom of God (R&S 512)

Prayers of Intercession

Lord, you took so much care to describe your kingdom in ways everyone could understand, including us. Your kingdom come, O Lord. Your will be done.

We pray today that you will pass on to us that gift of making ourselves accessible. Keep us from being a stumbling block to those who would seek you; from using language that puzzles; from actions that confuse; from anything that keeps us apart from your people around us. Your kingdom come, O Lord. Your will be done.

God of heaven in ordinary, we pray for those searching for the precious pearl of purpose in their lives… We pray for those searching for peace… We pray for those longing for reconciliation… We pray for those yearning for freedom… We pray for those aching for forgiveness… We pray for those who need acceptance… We pray for the sick who need healing… We pray for those longing for comfort… To you, Lord of love, we entrust our prayers. Your kingdom come, O Lord. Your will be done.


Hymn The kingdom of God is justice and joy (R&S 200)


Loving God, thank you for your reign breaking in, all around, for those with eyes to see. May the light of your love be focused within us. May we create space in our hearts to treasure it. And may we be of service to your love, now and always. Amen.

Prayers and other material (adapted) © Roots for Churches Ltd. Used by permission.

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