Worship, Prayer and Bible Resources
Ordinary 17 - Year B
Liturgical Colour - Green
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
|Post Communion Sentence|
|Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead:|
|Intercessions from our Sunday worship|
Where is God when you really need him/her? When there are real issues to deal with, life threatening situations, terrible illness, exam results, a divorce or the loss of a job? Often people turn to prayer on these occasions and seek a way out with the help of a divine genie. Well God can be found in any situation, but God is not personal magic wand. The way to find God is by each day committing our path and our choices into his care, it is as we do this that we find God is with us along each step of life, no matter what we may encounter along the way. If God seems distant then it is only because you have been away for too long. Take time now and change your life forever.
Opening Verses of Scripture Ephesians 3:20
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Collect Prayer for the Day
Gracious God, Your Son Jesus Christ fed the hungry with the bread of life and the word of your Kingdom. Renew Your people with Your heavenly grace and in all our weakness sustain us by Your true and living bread, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen Methodist Worship
God, you have poured the Spirit of your Son into our hearts so that we call you Father. Give us grace to devote our freedom to your service that we and all creation may be brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For the Kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen. Methodist Worship
Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: graft in our hearts the love of your name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of your great mercy keep us in the same; 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. Common Worship
Generous God, you give us gifts and make them grow: though our faith is
small as mustard seed, make it grow to your glory and the flourishing of
your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Common Worship Shorter
First Bible Reading 2 Kings 4:42-44
A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe corn, along with some ears of new corn. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said. “How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked. But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the LORD says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’ ” Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.
Second Reading Ephesians 4:1-6
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Gospel Reading John 6:1-2
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
Lord God, whose Son is the true vine and the source of life, ever giving himself that the world may live: may we so receive within ourselves the power of his death and passion that, in his saving cup, we may share his glory and be made perfect in his love; for he is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Amen.
God our creator, you feed your children with the true manna, the living bread from heaven: let this holy food sustain us through our earthly pilgrimage until we come to that place where hunger and thirst are no more; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
For the past few weeks we have been reading Mark, now the lectionary takes us into John. In his gospel, John narrates seven miraculous acts by Jesus and he names them--"signs." He sees these signs as a special revelation about Jesus and in each, the believer is brought close to the all powerful and resurrected Lord. We not only witness a miraculous deed performed by Jesus, but through the sign we are invited to step closer for a more thorough reflection on what it says about Jesus. The signs John narrates help those with eyes of faith to see and to believe in Jesus in the ways each sign reveals him to us. Remember what John said towards the end of his gospel. He states his purpose for writing quite clearly, "Jesus performed many other signs as well, signs not recorded here, in the presence of his disciples. But these have been recorded to help you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, so that through this faith, you may have life in his name" (20: 30-31).
We now focus on one of these signs so that in "seeing" it we might grow in
faith. Today we have the sign of the multiplication, this is intended to
lead us to reflect upon Jesus as the Bread of Life sent down from God.
A large crowd has sought Jesus out. Unlike the Synoptic gospels, John doesn't say that Jesus expresses pity for the hungry crowd or that they are like lost sheep without a shepherd. Instead, Jesus opens with a question to Philip about where "we" will get enough food for the approaching crowd. John tells us quite plainly, Jesus is "testing" his disciples. The story has us focus on how the disciples will respond to this test and what Jesus' own response will be.
The disciples evaluate their meagre resources and what will be required of them and then express incredulity, "how are we going to feed them?" They are not blind or indifferent to the needs around and they seem to want to address them, but just can't figure out how they will do it. It is just too much for them.
Jesus is also looking at the same hunger and he takes charge. The problem for Jesus was that in his compassion he reached out to help people in their needs: he healed them and gave them food and drink, but he always did these things as a sign of something greater, something higher to which he was calling people. More often than not, people missed the higher message, they just wanted to have their needs satisfied in the easiest possible way. They tended to seek him out as a magical healer and not hear the call to expansion and growth that he was making to them. Making him king would be a shortcut in solving many problems.
This same tendency exists today in all religious people, and in our practice of prayer. Jesus encourages us to pray for daily bread, but for no more, our requests to God in prayer for physical comforts must be limited to that which is at the most basic. Only when we do this will we ever discover the meaning of real wealth and happiness. Charles Royden
I bought a lovely new book some months ago, a book of
blessings. It is a lovely volume containing blessings collected from every
part of the world. It also contains blessings for many occasions. Who can
say when I shall be needing a special prayer for the blessing of chickens,
for example? Or a special prayer for the end of a day canoeing (from
Canada)? The book brings home a very serious point, that every part of life,
mundane or extraordinary can be rejoiced in. Even the dull routine can be
sanctified by prayer and gratitude to God. How often do people look back on
their lives and realise that they took the simple blessings for granted,
knowing only in retrospect how lucky they were? It used to be called
“counting your blessings” (and there was a song with the same title), and
however trite it may sound, it is a spiritual discipline which we should all
practise. Being aware of the blessings God has bestowed upon us, whether it
is water in the tap, a bed to sleep upon or a choice of food to eat, is
important. It helps us to remember that what we have comes from God, and
that many do not enjoy what we are so much inclined to take for granted.
- Praise to the Lord the almighty the king
- He’s got the whole world in his hands.
- May the mind of Christ my Saviour
- Great is thy faithfulness
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.,
Prayer for the day of Mary Magdalene 22 July
Faithful friend of Jesus, apostle to the apostles, misunderstood and wrongly accused. Guide us now o God, as with Mary Magdalene, we tread new paths in our passionate love for Christ. May we ambassadors of the good news to your Church and let your people rejoice in the leadership of women. (Nikki Archy, Women and the Church)
Blessing for a hard time.
Go in peace and faith. If you are tired, may you find rest, if you are anxious, may you find peace, if you are lonely may you find friends and if you are dying may you find new life. Know that nothing can separate you from the love of God in Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen
O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the
Prince of Peace; Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers
we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and
whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is
but one Body, and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one
faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may henceforth be
all of one heart, and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and
peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify
thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God you have poured the Spirit of your Son into our hearts so that we call you Father. Give us grace to devote our freedom to your service that we may be brought into the glorious liberty of the children. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever.
The letter to the Ephesians has rightly be called the “queen of the epistles” (ST Coleridge) because it is a marvellously concise yet comprehensive guide to Christian faith and practise. Although the letter declares itself to be by the apostle Paul, scholars from the early nineteenth century onwards pointed out that the vocabulary and style of the epistle was not the same as other epistles from Paul. Although the evidence that they produce to support this theory is strong, does it matter? Could it not be that some other brilliant writer took Paul’s words and précised them at a later date, rather than copy down every word from Paul’s letter? The theology of the letter is exactly in line with Paul’s teachings.
Ephesus was a former Greek colony. By Paul’s time it was the capital if the Roman province of Asia. As a port, Ephesus was a meeting place for many cultures and religions. It even contained one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the great temple of Artemis (Diana). Paul had visited there and caused a great upset to the cult of Diana which had a valuable trade in selling little silver models of the temple. Paul was thus addressing a church planted right in the heart of a powerful pagan culture. The excerpt from his letter, which we read this morning, deals with a concept which is powerful and central to the Christian faith. Put simply it is this: God is not in a building, a Temple, whether the Great Temple of Solomon or any other, He is not far away in Heaven, He is close to us, closer than close, in the souls of those who believe in Him. This great promise comes through the love of the Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The reading is in the form of a prayer for the faith of the people of Ephesus to be deepened. The miracle of love has made Christ dwell in their hearts, it is for them to try to understand the implications of this “indwelling”. By accepting Christ into their lives, at their conversion, they had allowed Him to enter into their hearts and minds. But what does that mean? By turning back to the original Greek used by Paul we get a clearer picture of what he was trying to say in this phrase of God dwelling within them. There were two similar Greek verbs paroikeo and katoikeo that he could have chosen to express the concept. The first paroikeo means merely to inhabit a place as a stranger. He chose to use the second word, Katoikeo which means to settle permanently. What Paul was insisting was that God was not a fleeting visitor in the soul of the believer, a presence which would fade away, but a permanent resident, a faithful and abiding presence in the lives of those who had welcomed him. What difference does such an idea make to our idea of God’s relationship with us? If God dwells within us, why sometimes do we feel so far from Him? What can we do to keep that miraculous closeness of God a living reality in our spiritual lives? Joan Crossley
Feeding of Multitudes
Given that feeding many people form scarce resources is an incredible happening its not surprising that we have multiple accounts of this type of events, including the one from 2 Kings. The verses that precede our reading from 2 Kings record that 'there was a famine in that region' and that under Elisha the people had tried to cook something for themselves from herbs and wild vegetation with near disastrous results. In the reading from John, a great number of people had followed Jesus as a result of the miracles he was performing. They were hungry for His teaching and the new life that it offered. In one sense we could also say that 'there was a famine in that region'. The people had tried to cook up something for themselves and had failed. Jesus teases the disciples and asks where will all the food come from to feed the people sitting in front of them. To which they reply with the equivalent of, '…a whole truck load of food from Tesco's or Sainsbury's wouldn't feed this lot... … all we've got between us is a small rice and pasta salad and a diet yoghurt'. It's perhaps easy then to interpret these passages as an indication of God providing for our material needs. When all seems lost we need to trust to Him for our provision. What we have to offer is so meagre in comparison to the riches he offers, and so freely gives out of the abundance of his riches in glory. And there is a sense in which this interpretation is true. We all know of occasions where God has indeed provided for His people in a very real, physical manner, perhaps through gifts of money through faithful Christians or in many other ways. Our partnership buildings are testimony to God's provision to us, through His grace and the hard work and efforts of many of His people working in tandem with Him. God does provide for us, but perhaps the key to these passages is to see that we need to understand that God's provision for us is both physical and spiritual. The gospel writer John, of all the gospel writers, especially weaves this theme into His writings several times. Think of the wedding at Cana, the Master of Ceremonies did not know from where the good wine had come. The woman at the well in Samaria did not know from where the living water would come. In the gospel reading from John, Philip does not know where on earth he's going to find the food for the many thousands of people who are gathered on the hillside and who want feeding. But in each of these situations the pattern is the same. And so is the result. At Cana, at Samaria and now here on the hillside, all that the people have, the stuff of their everyday life, is taken and offered to God. Water, the woman's humanity, bread, and fish are all given thanks for, and offered up to God, to be received by Him and exposed to His touch. He is not constrained by the physical rules of nature, He can even walk on water. But in being exposed to Him, everything, even nature itself, is transformed into something more than anyone ever expected. Just as the more we expose ourselves and all that we have to Him, there more we, and it, is transformed into something beyond even our wildest dreams.
A holy man on a pilgrimage was resting beneath a tree at the outskirts of a
city. He was interrupted by a man who ran to him, saying, "The stone! Give
me the stone! Please, give me the stone."
"What stone?" asked the holy man. Then the man told how an angel had appeared to him in a dream and told him that he would find a holy man, a pilgrim just outside the city who would give him a stone and make him rich forever. The holy man reached into his pocket and pulled out a great diamond. "The angel probably spoke of this, " he said. "I found it on my journey here. If you truly want it, you may have it."
The diamond was as big as his fist and perfect in every way. The man marvelled at its beauty, clutched it eagerly and walked away from the pilgrim. But, that night he could not sleep, before it was light, he went out to find the holy man. At dawn he woke the holy pilgrim, saying, "Wealth! Give me the wealth! Please, give me the wealth that lets you so easily give away the diamond."
Almighty God, in all the business of life, help us to be still in your presence, that we may know ourselves to be your people and you to be our God. Amen
Heavenly Father, you taught us by your Son Jesus Christ that all our possessions come from you. Help us to be faithful stewards of our time, our talents and our wealth, and to consecrate gladly to your service a due proportion of all that you have given us. Take us and make us your own, for Jesus Christ sake. Amen
Almighty God, as we stand at the foot of the cross of your Son, help us to see and know your love for us, so that in humility, love and joy we may place at His feet all that we have and all that we are and all that we will be, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
May our Lord Jesus Christ be near us to defend us, within us to refresh us, around us to preserve us, before us to guide us, and above us to bless us; with the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with us now, in the week ahead, and for ever. Amen