no gangnam style required

I preached on Sunday, two services, same passage. The first service was a small group aged between 1 and older! Both had a lot of ad libbing, including the prayers. It is strange I like to know there is one written but then something else comes about. The prayers for other people at the first service was totally extempore because I had a white page to look at and as I began remembered I had seen no news in the last week. I keep giving this note to myself – “At least read the headlines” but it all came through and I wasn’t stoned out the building. This service was less than an hour by some ten minutes and I wondered about that and realised there was no kid talk and the six hymns chosen from the eight provided at the other service were the shorter ones. So good point to remember, look at hymn length.

The second service was an all-age that I had brought on myself and it could have gone very wrong because what I had written down was not what had evolved in my head and so for one section I didn’t even write it out again. I felt so blessed at this service that although small in number lots volunteered (?) to help in the various aspects of the service. One person and one child stood out as being particularly good at improv, adlib and mime. Again wasn’t stoned and had lots of conversations afterwards. Was difficult to get the timing right and it lasted well over an hour but the kids were still engaging at the end and no one had gone to sleep. Must work out a way to time an all-age.

Neither service was recorded. The first because I forgot and the second because there wasn’t a static mike or me standing still. Below are the “kind of ” contents of the two services.

Good morning and welcome everyone to the service this morning. We are going to be unpacking the Parable of the Sower this morning.

Psalm 119:33-40 using the New English Translation

33 Teach me, O Lord, the lifestyle prescribed by your statutes,
so that I might observe it continually.
34 Give me understanding so that I might observe your law,
and keep it with all my heart.
35 Guide me in the path of your commands,
for I delight to walk in it.
36 Give me a desire for your rules,
rather than for wealth gained unjustly.
37 Turn my eyes away from what is worthless!
Revive me with your word!
38 Confirm to your servant your promise,
which you made to the one who honours you.
39 Take away the insults that I dread!
Indeed, your regulations are good.
40 Look, I long for your precepts.
Revive me with your deliverance!

Let’s settle our hearts and minds in a few moments of silence for our service of worship.

Silence

Let us pray

O Lord we come before you now, all different, all unique, but all of us, equal before you, and all here for one purpose to worship you. To respond to your extravagant love with love.

Give us a desire to follow you, help us turn away from the worldly. Revive us this morning Lord.

Open our ears so we can hear, open our eyes so we can see, open our minds so we might understand and open our hearts so we can embrace, so we can welcome you into our hearts

We say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

We are going to have our praise time led by Steve…

Praise Time – 4 songs and some extempore praise and prayer

Let us pray

O mighty and wondrous Father,

You are powerful, you are mighty, the astonishing amazing God. You who created the heavens and the earth and everything in them. We embrace your love. Because you are not some distant relative, you are ever present in our lives. A very personal God, a very personal relationship. O Lord we love you.

Thank you Father for sending your son, Jesus Christ who took on our human frailty, lived with us as one of us, and even today meets us in our point of pain, who transforms us and makes us into new creations.

Jesus we thank you for everything you are doing in our lives, for the past  – gone, for the future – taken care of. We don’t have to worry about money in the bank or clothes on our back because we are loved by you.

In you we place our trust, in you we believe, in you we have confidence to live in this moment with no worries. That you take care of our worries, thank you Jesus, thank you Lord. You are Lord in this place.

As we open our bibles and hear the words written down long ago help us find understanding not just in our minds but in our hearts, opening our ears and eyes to your ways. For your ways are straight and true

In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen

Reading

Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23

The Parable of the Sower

 

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

 

Announcements

Offering

Prayer

Sermon

At 11 oclock there is an all age service based on the same scripture so there will no long words so I thought I’d put them all in now. No I’m not. But I am going to start at the end and work backwards.

You see I want to be good soil, don’t  you? In Jesus’ interpretation for the disciples he is talking about people who take the word into their heart, into the centre of their being and live out their lives being “good soil”

Of course we all want to be “good soil” We want the word of God to take root in our hearts. It has been said that a person’s vision comes not from their position but from their passion. But I would go further and say that a person’s vision comes from the root of their passion rather than the might of their power.

What is your root? What is your passion?

Are we “good soil” all the way through, in every aspect of lives, are we always open to the word of God, are we always open to the nudging of the Spirit, in everything

You see it has also been said though that we are a mixture of all the soils in the parable. We have thorns and weeds, we have patches of rockiness and even the odd bit of concrete path in our good soil.

So I kind of see this parable not as something static but as a movie that changes, it is a story unfolding as our lives unfold.

Can our roots withhold the storms that batter our stalks? Can we remain with humility when things are going really well in our lives? When the most devastating thing happens can we remain anchored to Christ rather than building up barricades against him?

Going backwards then to the thorns and weeds. In Spring I go in the polytunnel and tidy up, remove all the weeds and plant my seeds, I water and tend to them but it seems like overnight they are covered in weeds and they are growing more abundantly than the vegetables. Can we see that in our lives? We want to be good soil but “good soil” takes work. We have to keep weeding it. And we do that by spending time with the Lord every day, reading the Bible, praying, listening to the Lord and spending time in fellowship. And we have to know our weeds and thorns, we need to know where our weaknesses are, as Jesus put it the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth. Wealth can be deceitful whether we have it or not. Since the downturn in the economy more and more people have been treated for gambling addiction. If we are wealthy we can worry about keeping it.

But there are other worries, we are told in the bible not to worry, we are preached at to not worry and yet we still do. We worry about the things we can’t change. So those worries grow like weeds choking the love of God, but we can share those worries with the one who loves us.

Later on in the polytunnel, the balance in the rate of growth changes, because of the weeding the weeds still come but they start at day one again but the veggies they grow on steadily. So the fruit outweighs the weeds. We are going to have weeds in our lives but if we keeping weeding and concentrate our gaze on Jesus they will be manageable.

The rocky ground, where roots find it hard to travel downward. What can we do to allow the roots grow? Or how do we get rid of the rocks? Anyone who has been stone picking knows, there is no end to it. There is so much broken shale around the fields of Kerry that hand picking is an ongoing task after each harvest that churns more up. In our on going journey with the Lord there are times of growth spurts. Like when we are first transformed into new creations we can get so caught up in our feelings that we forget to remain focused on Jesus. I heard this week of a church who would have say 700 at the service but barely 20 would turn up for the deeper study.  We need encouragement and sustainability and of course we are encouraged and sustained by Christ but also by each other. I have been reminded in recent weeks of the last time I went stone picking, it was in a field on the opposite hill, four families together picked the field in a day. When we come together we can share the load and help each other along the way. So we can help turn the rocky ground into fruitful ground.

And then we come to the path. That slab of concrete that’s not letting any word in. And the enemy ready to swoop down and steal away with seeds of love. But the sower doesn’t stop trying to sow those seeds.

Have you ever wondered about that? A farmer went out to sow his seed. And he wasn’t stingy, he was extravagant, he abundantly scattered the seed. The seed is the message of the kingdom of God. The sower doesn’t worry about where the seed lands because each seed can chip away at a hardened heart, can strengthen someone’s faltering faith, can remind people of Jesus and how he humbled himself to come among us. And if we are good soil – can encourage us, can keep us in the mode of readiness for when Jesus comes again.

As Christians we are called to spread the good news, to be sowers of the word. Wouldn’t it be great to be as extravagant and abundant as the farmer in the parable. To not worry about where we spread the good news. To continue to share the love of Jesus Christ everywhere we go, to whom ever we meet regardless of what we might think of them, knowing that there is grace enough for all of us, knowing that there is so much grace that it covers all things and all people. That giving God’s love is never wasted, never a waste of time, that sharing the love of Jesus is never ever a waste in any way.

Shall we try it? Not worrying? Not excluding anyone? Not trying to change anyone? There is no limit to the seeds we can plant, it’s not about the money, it’s not about the time, it’s not about who to invite.

The sower keeps scattering that seed, despite rejection, despite hardheartedness, despite whether we are good soil, or thorny weedy soil, despite what we think about each other, the seeds keep coming. Extravagant. Abundant. The lord continually pursues, continually plants, continually loves.

So no matter what kind of soil we are on any given day, God has made it possible to bear fruit.  Keep sowing… keep encouraging one another to sow… sow in abundance… be extravagant —- sow in love.

Amen

We are going to sing again, in praise and worship. Steve …2 Songs

Prayer and symbol

Grace

 

All Age

Good morning and welcome everyone to the service this morning. We are going to be unpacking the Parable of the Sower this morning and the kids are staying with us too.

Psalm 119:33-40 using the New English Translation

33 Teach me, O Lord, the lifestyle prescribed by your statutes,
so that I might observe it continually.
34 Give me understanding so that I might observe your law,
and keep it with all my heart.
35 Guide me in the path of your commands,
for I delight to walk in it.
36 Give me a desire for your rules,
rather than for wealth gained unjustly.
37 Turn my eyes away from what is worthless!
Revive me with your word!
38 Confirm to your servant your promise,
which you made to the one who honours you.
39 Take away the insults that I dread!
Indeed, your regulations are good.
40 Look, I long for your precepts.
Revive me with your deliverance!

Let’s settle ourselves for our service of worship.

Let us pray

Silence

O Lord we come before you now, all different, all unique, but all of us, equal before you, and all here for one purpose to worship you. To respond to your extravagant love with love.

You are good, so very good and you are good to us. As we prepare to sing your praises, as we engage in worshipping you, we thank you Lord, that you are here with us.

We thank you Lord that you are with us always,  no matter who we are you love us.

Open our ears so we can hear, open our eyes so we can see, open our minds so we might understand and open our hearts so we can embrace, so we can welcome you into our hearts

We say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

We are going to sing a couple of songs, in praise of our Lord. We begin by standing.

Anne will now bring us the reading.

Thank you

The Path

Where is a good place to sow in here? In someone’s hair? Cos like hair grows well doesn’t it, we, well most of us have to visit the barbers regularly so I think it would be a good place. What do you all think?

Okay so not hair. What about the piano. Marian makes sweet music from it and we learn new songs so we are growing in the number of songs we know?

Okay so not hair and not the piano. We need someplace where the seeds will grow. What about the pulpit box thing? We grow in our faith because we hear words from there that help us in our faith journey. What do you think?

Okay I get it. This isn’t the place for these seeds. Now the story we heard. The one Jesus told the people. It talks about the seed that falls on the path. So putting seed in hair or on pianos or on pulpit boxes that’s not going to work is it. But…

Hold that but let’s go back to the passage verse 4 says As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Jesus said later in verse 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

Okay now for my But…

If we were to put seed in our hair and went outside it would drop onto maybe the grass or the path and a bird might come and take it, then later it would be dispersed or dropped in a field or garden and it might find the right place. The same if were to leave them on the piano or pulpit or wherever, maybe a mouse might take them or they cleaned up but then through a series of adventures it ends up in a field or garden.

Some seeds can only grow if they are moved from where they are made by the plant or tree.

Oak seeds, acorns never grow under existing oak trees.

Chilli pepper seeds give better yield if first they are frozen.

So sometimes it is okay for the seed to go on the path because it needs some time to be digested. We share the good news about Jesus and the Kingdom of God all the time in places and to people who maybe don’t want to hear it. Close their ears to the word.

As soon as we have opened our mouths we are shouted down and I have heard many preachers suggest that we therefore ignore “the path” or walk away from these situations.

Another but…

But the farmer – he sowed seed on the path abundantly,

Let us pray

Dear Lord

We thank you for the seeds planted in our lives, we thank you that those seeds germinate in your time and we begin to grow,

Amen

We are going to sing a couple more songs in worship to our God. Steve…

Shallow Ground

Girl

People

We will look at that in a bit more detail in a minute but we thought we’d show you what equally could happen

Girl

People

Thank you

Verse 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

Roots needs three things, water and oxygen and soil that is not squashed down so that roots can grow down and out. If the ground is rocky it is difficult for the roots to get down into the goodness below. But seeds know what to do, they know to grow. So they make an attempt and they grow and grow using all their resources but what they have, comes to an end and they wither because there is no root.

Jesus said in verses 20-21

20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

What our actors portrayed first is someone who hasn’t focused on their root. There have been some pretty hefty trees knocked down in Kerry this month. Some trees survived where others didn’t. Storms happen in our life, but if we batten down the hatches and focus on our root, Jesus, we can weather any storm. This is not a platitude, this is a truth. The more stormy it gets the more we need to spend time with the Lord in prayer, in petition, in listening too, in reading the bible, in fellowship in small groups and coming together in church to worship together.

Let us pray

Lord today we think of all the people struggling in the storm. Let us reach out to them in your name and sow seeds of your love in their life. Let them in the storm find you as their anchor, their root. And Lord we too need to hold fast to our root which is you, our centre, you. As we sow seeds of your love we also receive your love. We are workers in your kingdom who keep our focus on the king. Thank you Lord for being our King. We love you. Amen

We are going to worship in song again, Steve..

Announcements

Collection

Lord, all we have is yours, our whole lives belong to you, our gifts, our talents, our possessions, please accept this, a token from us back to you to further the work of the kingdom both here and all around the world. amen

Thorny and weedy

Show video 0.27 to 3.45

Last week at the nine o clock service Laurence spoke about the things that hinder us from focusing on Jesus. And they weren’t all bad. They were family and work and hobbies, stuff like that. And that’s what the thorns and weeds can represent. When our focus isn’t first on Jesus. When we get our work title into the first line of the conversation, “Hi I’m Jenny I’m a store manager” or “Hi I’m John I am a stay at home dad.” Or we pray to Jesus to help us study or get through an exam or an interview but when we pass, we take the praise, we take the glory and forget our focus. Or maybe in church we take on a role and become full of pride at our accomplishments.

Psalm 119

36 Give me a desire for your rules,

rather than for wealth gained unjustly.

37 Turn my eyes away from what is worthless!

Revive me with your word!

The thorns and weeds of our lives are hidden until we begin to grow. And then they come up and overwhelm us, choke the love out of us. In our busyness of sowing seeds in other peoples lives we neglect our own personal relationship with the Lord, we can get caught up in what “I do” or “you do” or “we do” and forget that we can do nothing without Jesus. It isn’t us people need it is Jesus. And that’s humbling and it should be.

Because Jesus, king of kings humbled himself to come to this earth to be among us. He meets us where we are at, in whatever situation that is.

Let’s pray

Lord

We bow down before you, we are on our knees. We look back over the last week and see where we have allowed pride to get in under our skin, we see all the other ways we have messed up, even this morning because none of us here is without sin and we ask you Lord to forgive us. We thank you Lord for that forgiveness, for your love abundant and extravagant, for your outrageous grace and bottomless mercy. Help us Lord to keep our focus on you and all you have done, are doing and will do in our lives.

Amen

Bonus time now we get to sing again, we get to raise our voices once more in song.

Good Soil

We have heard about paths and rocky ground and thorns and weeds. So we must be up to the good soil.

Jesus said:

But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

Some people have said the sower was not very good at his or her job because the seed went all over the place and only some landed in the good soil.

There is a story of a man called Jimmy, he was full of himself, full of pride and his own abilities he was in a good paid job and was all about the money, money, money.

Well as in all good tales he got his comeuppance and lost everything and ended up in the court of the king asking for a servants job. He was given the job of water carrier.

Now this meant he had to carry a pitcher twice a day to the river which was three miles away. No car, no bike. He had to walk it, there and back twice. And on the way back carry a pitcher of water on his head.

But for him the worst part was not the walking or the carrying. It was the humiliation of doing a job that was really for women and children. On his first day full of anger and resentment he fumed as he arrived at the river. The women and children laughed at the high and mighty Jimmy brought as low as them.

I did tell you he had abilities. Well one of them was strength and the other was making things. He decided to make a yoke that would carry two pitchers. And to avoid the women he went really early in the morning. The pitchers were heavy but he did the job, and because he felt burdened by the shame of his lowly position he still went twice a day.

So the king got to enjoy more baths and the cook had more water to boil the vegetables. Everyone was happy, except Jimmy. He was angry at losing all he had, he was humiliated by the position and he got to feeling very low. Like when you feel sick but the doctor can’t see anything wrong.

All through the winter and spring he did the best job he could do but he was sad. One day walking back with his heavy load he met a man going the other way.

“Isn’t it beautiful” the man said to Jimmy

“What is?” Jimmy asked

“The path, the hedgerow, so colourful”

Jimmy looked up to where the man was pointing and at the side of the road was an abundance of colour, flowers of every kind were blooming.

“Thank you for watering the parched earth and letting the flowers blossom” the man said to Jimmy

Jimmy went on his way singing and whistling, oh what joy. He never knew who planted the seeds but it was him with his over full pitchers that watered them. People began to come from miles around to see the beautiful flowers and meet the unexpected gardener.

The flowers were beautiful but what was exceptionally beautiful was the change in Jimmy. Gone was the anger replaced by joy. He still did his job, still did as much but now he was joyful his load felt lighter and he was able to encourage the other water carriers in song and in his whistles.

The End

We as a church all of us from the youngest to the oldest have been given some questions to mull over, to pray about, to challenge us about the health of our church. So are we good soil?

Is the love of Jesus present in our lives as individuals and as a church. Is that love shown abundantly and extravagantly so seeds of the love of Jesus are planted in people’s hearts.

I believe we are good soil, I see it in the way you all minister to each other in a crisis and in lots of other ways, supporting and nurturing each other, building each other up and in the same way building the church up the body of Christ.

One final but.

But we all know at least one person like Jimmy in the story, who we think about who may be are choking in the thorns or being uprooted by storm or are a blank concrete slab so the seed bounces off. And so I invite you to pray about that one person, the one uppermost in your mind and heart and whilst praying about that person please do plant a seed to symbolically associate your prayer with the seed of Jesus’ love for that person. And I am hoping that we’ll be allowed let these seeds grow so come a few months time we hope that person has grown in faith in that love as much as the plants have.

So for the last time I am looking for a few volunteers to pass out the seed and and a couple of strong people to carry the planters.

Prayer

The Grace

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