Home Service Sunday 3rd July 2022

Service 3rd July 2022

Prayers of Approach

Holy, holy, holy Lord, we rejoice in all that you have done. We gather to praise you and to reflect on how we can play our part in your work. Holy, holy, holy Lord, be with us now – inspire us, enrich our worship and encourage our mission, in Jesus’ name.

We bring ourselves to this moment in time, to worship you, O God. We come knowing you and yet seeking to know you more, to offer you our prayers and praises, and to receive your blessing.

Creator God, you are our all, you created and crafted us. God of the journey, you are our journey, our aim, our purpose, our goal. God of welcome, you receive each of us, no matter who and what we are. God of peace, you give us peace, and you call us to be one in you and to share that peace.

Amen

Hymn To God be the glory, great things he has done (R&S 289)

Readings: Galatians 6:1-10, 16

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Introduction

In the reading from Galatians Paul draws on a popular proverb to introduce the image of sowing and reaping. The harvests of ‘flesh’ and ‘Spirit’ (v.8) are in stark contrast. The way of ‘flesh’, embodied in self-centred Galatian culture, can only yield ‘corruption’, whereas ‘eternal life’ grows from the Christ-centredness that flows from the Spirit.

In our Gospel reading Jesus sends 70 people ahead of him, in pairs, to spread the good news. He tells them to take little with them, gratefully receiving hospitality when it is offered and moving on swiftly when it is not. He says that if people will not listen to their message, it is God they are rejecting. When the 70 return, they are full of joy from their experience and what they were able to do in Jesus’ name. Spreading the good news, engaging in hospitality, and sharing God’s peace – these are all ways of giving and receiving God’s blessings. How does this play out in our lives?

Hymn Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising (R&S 523)

Sermon/Reflection

When I was minister in Barrow in Furness in the SW Cumbria United Area we took part with Churches Together in a project called ‘Walk Cumbria’. The idea was that a group of volunteer evangelists would come to a chosen geographical area, stay with hosts from local churches and exercise a ministry based on that of the 70 disciples in Luke’s Gospel account. They were allowed a budget of £2 per day (enough to buy an initial drink in a pub or café so that they could engage other patrons in conversation) but had to rely completely on offered hospitality for everything else.

The intention was that they would work alongside the local churches, exercise a ministry or help with a short term project that perhaps needed more people than we could provide for a limited period of time and kick start outreach which we would be able to continue after they left. One of the areas which we had identified as something that we needed help to get going was a schools ministry and we had invited primary schools to come in class groups to a 1st century Palestinian village which we had created in the biggest of our church halls and visit such people as the potter, the carpenter, the scribe, a family home, the Rabbi at the synagogue and encounter various other characters such as a beggar and some Roman soldiers.

On their way around the children would hear stories of how Jesus had affected the villagers lives and make things to take away with them to remind them such as clay lamps, scrolls with their names written in Hebrew letters and ‘dreidels’ (small spinners used at Hannukah). We needed more people to dress up and populate the village especially a few men to be Roman soldiers and

act menacingly. After the event we were confident that we would be able to do follow-up work ourselves and hopefully repeat the village or a similar project each year (it eventually evolved into an event called ‘Flashbacks’ which continued for many years). Unfortunately we discovered that most of our evangelists were uncomfortable with children’s ministry and much preferred street preaching, pub and door to door ministry and delivering leaflets. However it did teach us that we could do it ourselves and that by sharing the load among the people we did have we could achieve more than we thought.

Jesus’ requirement that the seventy take nothing with them underlines the urgency of their mission. They are to travel light so that they can move quickly, and they are not to stop to chat with people they meet on the road. This is a counter-cultural approach. In the ancient world, the exchange of information among travellers was a vital way in which news travelled – stopping to chat was expected! The urgency that Jesus placed on the gospel message is clearly shown in his instruction to break with tradition. Jesus instructs the seventy to rely on the traditions of hospitality that pervaded the society of his day. Their reliance will demonstrate their faith in God’s provision for those who are called.

Tolstoy wrote a story about Martin the cobbler called ’Where love is, God is’ which is a reminder that our sense of hospitality should be motivated by our service to God. The disciples trusted God for their ‘bed and breakfast’, and their hosts were motivated by God to provide it. Yet, in our modern context, a number of alarm bells start to sound. If someone rang your doorbell and said, ‘I’m God’s missionary in your area, and I need somewhere to stay, can you help?’ – how would you react? The culture of hospitality in the Middle East during the first century is far removed from the ‘fortress’ mentality we sometimes encounter round us today. Last week, we heard that the refusal of the Samaritan village to welcome Jesus brought an offer to destroy it with fire from heaven! How might people react to a statement like that today? And yet, this story should surely make us think about our approach to hospitality. For example, could we – should we – offer hospitality to a refugee? At its root, this story is about passing on the good news of God’s kingdom. How well that message is received will depend on how we handle everyday matters such as hospitality. What is appropriate hospitality?

Hymn God’s spirit is deep in my heart (R&S 576)

Prayers of Intercession

Loving God, you call us to bear one another’s burdens, so we seek your discernment in aiding those struggling to stand beneath the ravages of physical and mental ill health. Peace and mercy be upon them.

Help us to speak up for the marginalised and the vulnerable burdened by the ever growing onslaught of social media. Peace and mercy be upon them.

Help us to get alongside and bring comfort to those fighting their way through the dark forest of grief. Peace and mercy be upon them.

Lord, with an ever growing population there is great need of you in the world today. We pray for all those in the field of mission, at home and abroad, particularly for those just stepping out on their journey. Peace and mercy be upon them.

May your blessings be poured out to all in need as we journey in step with your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Hymn A glorious company we sing (R&S 570) or Colours of day dawn into the mind (R&S 572)

Blessing

Where there is conflict, let there be peace. Where there is fearfulness, let there be peace. Where there is anger, let there be peace. Where there is violence, let there be peace. May God’s peace rest on our homes and all who live in them. Amen.

 

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

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