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Worship, Prayer and Bible Resources

Ordinary 9 Year A  (Trinity 1)

Opening Verse


Collect Prayer
First Reading:
Second Reading:
Gospel Reading
Post Communion Sentence
Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead :
Intercessions from our Sunday worship


If you are a good builder, then your reputation goes before you and people want you to do their work. If you are a bad builder then you get a bad reputation and if people find out beforehand, then they do not employ you.

Jesus was a builder, a carpenter, not an academic with his head in the clouds. He knew all about reputations, and like any other carpenter he would have spent time working on houses and he would have to make sure that his work was up to the job. He would have lived near to people whose homes he worked on and if there was a problem he would no doubt hear all about it. Jesus took this important lesson into his religious teaching. It was no good just being one of his followers. If you wanted to really say that you belonged to Jesus, then it was important that your lifestyle measured up. So in the passage this week, Jesus tells his followers that they must not only say they belonged to Jesus, they must take the words of Jesus and put them into practice. They would be like walking advertisements. 

Jesus used the best illustration he could think of, if you followed the teachings of Jesus and actually put it them into practice, then you would be like a house built on rock. Whatever life threw at you you would stand firm, like a soundly built house on good foundations. 

Opening Verses of Scripture Matthew Chapter 7

Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Collect Prayerfor the Day — Before we read we pray

O God, the strength of all those who put their trust in you, mercifully accept our prayers and, because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing without you, grant us the help of your grace, that in the keeping of your commandments we may please you both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen (Common Worship)

God of truth, help us to keep your law of love and to walk in ways of wisdom, that we may find true life, in Jesus your Son.  Amen.  (Common Worship Additional Collects)

First Bible Reading  Deuteronomy Chapter 11:18-28

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow--to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him-- then the LORD will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you. Every place where you set your foot will be yours: Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the western sea. No man will be able to stand against you. The LORD your God, as he promised you, will put the terror and fear of you on the whole land, wherever you go. See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse-- the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.  

Second Reading  Romans Chapter 1:16-17,  3:22-28

Romans 1:16-17
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

Romans Chapter 3:22b-28
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished--
he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith.
For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

Gospel Reading  Matthew 7:21-28

Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 

Post Communion Sentence

Eternal Father, we thank you for nourishing us with these heavenly gifts: may our communion strengthen us in faith, build us up in hope and make us grow in love; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Hearers and Doers

Our lectionary readings from now until Advent are going to be concerned very much with the Gospel of Matthew. The passage from Matthew today has been taken from what we call the Sermon on the Mount. It contains many rules for Christian living. This particular passage today comes at the end of the Sermon on the Mount.

By this stage in Matthew we have already been given the following teaching by Jesus

  1. To let our light shine so that people might see our good works and give glory to the Father (5:16)

  2. To keep and teach the commandments (5:17-20)

  3. To deal with anger and to resolve conflict (5:21-26)

  4. To maintain proper marital relationships (5:27-32)

  5. To speak honestly without fanfare or oaths (5:34-37)

  6. To act in generous and loving ways -- even toward our enemies (5:38-48)

  7. To give alms and to pray in secret (6:1-6)

  8. To forgive (6:14-15)

  9. To seek first the kingdom of God (6:24-34)

  10. To refrain from judgment (7:1-5)

So now at the end of his teaching Jesus challenges his hearers to be either obedient to his words or disobedient. Jesus does this by using the teaching method of a parable. On the face of it is an easy to understand story, but parables have a way of presenting truth in very clear and uncompromising manner.

Jesus told this compelling parable with a powerful message about two men who built houses. One man built his house on sand and his house fell down when the weather got really bad. The other man built his house on the rock and his house stood firm in spite of the storms. So far so good, we all agree that we should build on solid foundations, we should copy the man who built on the rock.

Then Jesus comes in with the punch line. The difference between the two men is not that one man is a believer in Jesus and the other is not. Both of the men listen to the words of Jesus. What distinguishes them is that one man put the words of Jesus into practice and tries to live by them. The other man hears the words of Jesus and might think that they are fantastic, but he does not live by them. The lesson is clear, just listening to the words of and agreeing with them is not enough. It is a start, but ultimately useless if we don't go on to live out what we believe.

That is why the Sermon on the Mount has been called the Christian Magna Charta, the Christian Manifesto, the Design for Life, and the Rules for Christian Living. Jesus is telling his followers that belief in him is about what we do when we get up in the morning. It is about how we live our lives in the choices and decision which we take. In the Sermon on the Mount we read the Beatitudes, the Lord's Prayer, and the Golden Rule. Jesus deals with murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, revenge, and worry. Jesus gives instructions on prayer, giving to the poor, fasting, judging others, and saving money. Just listen to this list of phrases from the Sermon on the Mount that have echoed through the ages:

  1. If someone strikes you on the right cheek turn to him the other also

  2. Love your enemies

  3. When you give, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing

  4. Do not judge, or you too will be judged

  5. Do to others what you would have them do to you

It is so very easy to hear something, agree with it completely and then go out and do nothing about it. We can accept statements as being completely true, but nevertheless we can be utterly complacent and not allow ourselves to be changed by what we have heard. The teaching of Jesus from the lesson in Matthew  Chapter 7 this week, challenges any of his hearers who have that shallow kind of response. The message is clear, if you follow Jesus you do what he says, otherwise you might just as well not bother following him at all. It is a hard message, but it makes sense, being a Christian is not just about things we believe in our heads, it is about how we live and show that our faith makes a difference.

The storm in the parable can be seen as the Last Judgement, or any time of testing.  What is clear is that Jesus makes the assumption in the parable that both men experience storms. The wise man who tries to live out his faith and the foolish man for whom it is only skin deep, both face storms. Faithfulness to Jesus does not mean the absence of storms. Our faith is a strength to us in times of distress not a means of protecting us from them in the first place. How often have you hard somebody say, I don’t know what I have done wrong to deserve this? The importance is not what torments assail your life, it is how you face them.

A faith that is built on Christ, the solid rock, is a faith that endures emotional upheavals, floods of sorrow, tempests of grief and hostility. A faith built on Christ endures emotional upheavals, our economic upsets, our sorrows and our grief. But building a house of faith on rock is a slower process. It takes more effort, stamina, patience, and imagination. Building a house on the rock is a lot harder, you work and work and at the end your house looks no better than the one built on the sand. Superficially they can be seen as both being good houses. The difference is only seen when the going really gets tough.

Another rabbinical parable said

'A man whose knowing exceeds his doing, is like a tree with many branches and few roots.'

The benefit of a tree having great roots is that when a drought comes then the tree can survive.

Bishop Ryle put is clearly when he said,

Sound doctrine and holy living are the marks of true prophets.

And so the Sermon on the Mount is brought to a conclusion with a warning from Jesus. His words are not just to be heard but also to be done. Choose - wisdom or foolishness. Words without action and action without faith are both shallow and not what God wants for us. Jesus is not impressed by our pious words, rather he looks for sincerity in our good living in obedience. Charles Royden


Leaning tower of PisaWhat do we do when faced by people we really do not like? There will be many different reasons why we don't get on with certain people and why they don't get on with us. It can be really hard to get along with people who are rude and selfish and some people can just wind us up for no special reason. The Sermon on the Mount gives us guidance on how we should behave towards these people. Even if we feel like punching somebody in the face, instead we must show good manners and be polite, turning the other cheek. When we feel that somebody has really pushed their luck and deserves a right talking to, then we should forgive. God's way for us is one of learning tolerance, understanding and forgiveness, especially to those we really hate! Charles Royden


The Tower of Pisa was a work of art, performed in three stages over a period of about 177 years. Construction of the first floor of the white marble campanile began on August 9, 1173, a period of military success and prosperity. This first floor is surrounded by pillars with classical capitals, leaning against blind arches. The tower began to sink after construction progressed to the third floor in 1178. This was due to a mere three-meter foundation, set in weak, unstable subsoil. This means the design was flawed from the beginning.


  1. The Wise man built his house upon the rock

  2. And can it be that I should gain

  3. All my hope on God is founded

  4. Christ is made the sure foundation

  5. Rock of ages, cleft for me

  6. Teach me, my God and king

  7. To God be the glory, great things he has done



Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

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.



O God, who hast commanded us to be perfect, as thou art perfect; put into my heart, I pray thee, a continual desire to obey thy holy will. Teach me day by day what thou wouldst have me do, and give me grace and power to fulfill the same. May I never from love of ease, decline the path which thou pointest out, nor, from fear of shame, turn away from it.  Henry Alford.

Make us, O blessed Master, strong in heart, full of courage and fearless of danger. Whatever lies before us upon our path, may we be strengthened by the might of your Spirit and delivered by your holy and gracious hand; and this we beg for your name's sake. Amen. FB Meyer, 1847-1929

O Lord our God,
make our hearts obedient to your will;
turn our eyes away from vain things,
that, free from the world's attraction,
they may always look on your glorious beauty.
For you are our God,
the God of compassion and salvation,
and we glorify you, father Son and Holy Spirit,
now and for ever, to the ages and ages. Amen.
Eastern Orthodox Church
O thou from whom to be turned is to fall
to whom to be turned is to rise
and in whom to stand is to abide, for ever;
Grant us in all our duties they help in all our perplexities thy guidance,
in all our dangers thy protection,
and in all our sorrows thy peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
St Augustine
Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow men throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them, through our hands, this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give peace and joy. Mother Theresa

My father, teach us not only your will, but how to do it. Teach us the best way of doing the best things, lest we spoil the end by unworthy means. J H Jowett

Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.
Grant us ears to hear,
eyes to see,
wills to obey,
hearts to love;
Then declare what you will,
reveal what you will
command what you will
demand what you will
Christina Rossetti

Additional Material

Jesus was a carpenter and hence we should assume he knew a thing or two about building houses. So, Jesus ended the Sermon on the Mount with the parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders. Throughout the long day Jesus had been preaching to the vast multitude who listened to him with amazement and awe. But, Jesus warned them that it was not enough to listen. It is never enough simply to listen to the words of Jesus, even though we may listen with reverent approval. If His words are to have any genuine effect in our lives we must not only hear them but also act upon them. We must incorporate them in the events of our day-to-day living. It is as we seek to mould our thinking and behaviour into the manner of Christ’s example that we allow our lives to be shaped more as God intended

We should note that the house is not spared from storms.  Its survival does not depend on being sheltered from storms.  The metaphor suggests that God does not shelter Christians from life's storms (illness, accidents, death, job loss, etc.).  While our faith can reduce our stress-level and our prayers can, in some circumstances, lead to miraculous cures, Christians must be prepared to live through the storms and tragedies that are common to humankind. 

Jesus is saying that we ourselves have the ability to determine to a large extent what kind of persons we become. We are all building our lives and making decisions about the kind of people we will be. We may try to place the responsibility for the lives we build upon external causes, but actually we have to take a large pert of the responsibility for what we turn out like. Everyday of our lives, either consciously or unconsciously, we are involved in building. The crucial question is will we build according to the teachings of Jesus. Of course there is no doubt that we are influenced by people around us, our families and friends, but this places additional responsibility upon us, we are helping them build also. Charles Royden


  1. Praise my soul
  2. Majesty & The wise man
  3. Rock of ages
  4. How great thou art
  5. Our eyes have seen the glory

Generous God, we recognize the joys and challenges of living alongside each other. We pray for all in positions of authority and influence in our community, for those who work in hospitals and schools, in the police force and emergency services, for those who face suspicion and criticism when difficult decisions need to be made, for those among us who are homeless, refugee, stranger or asylum seeker, that through us, your people, the love of Christ may be shown in our community. Gracious God, we give thanks for the Bible, 'the most precious gift that earth affords'.

We pray for all people of faith, and for those who seek a faith by which to live, for Bible scholars and translators who open the Word of God to others, for those who preach the Gospel, and those who would follow the Bible's teachings, that through the Holy Spirit, Your Word may inspire and direct them. Holy God, we rejoice that in every generation people hear your call to commitment and faithfulness..

Risen, reigning Christ, in you past, present and future, are brought together in one great hope. Renew our faith in you, so that the past may not hinder us, nor the present overwhelm us, or the future frighten us. You have brought us this far; continue to lead us until our hope is fulfilled and we join with all God's people in never-ending praise; for your name's sake. Amen

Lord of our lives and God of our salvation, grant that we may live by your word, and commit ourselves afresh to serve our local community, nation and world for the building up of your kingdom, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

Loving God, we remember with gratitude that Jesus cared so much that he washed his disciples' feet. We pray for those who seek to be Christ's loving presence in the world, for those who mourn the loss of loved ones, for those who are the sick, those who are anxious or disillusioned, for those whose needs we know, and those whose needs are known by you alone, that through your grace, your transforming power will bring hope and confidence.

Collect Prayer

Almighty God, whose kingdom is everlasting, and power infinite: have mercy upon the whole Church; and so rule the heart of thy chosen servant Elizabeth, our Queen and Governor, that she (knowing whose minister she is) may above all things seek thy honour and glory: and that we and all her subjects (duly considering whose authority she hath) may faithfully serve, honour and humbly obey her, in thee, and for thee, according to thy blessed word and ordinance; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth, ever one God, world without end. Amen