"To create places of belonging where people discover Jesus and are equipped to follow him"

Sunday 13th June 2021

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has greatly blessed us.

CH$ 268 O God of Bethel

Glory be to the God from whom all blessings flow. We praise you for the love that never changes and the mercies that are new every morning. You are the God of light and love; disperse the darkness from our minds and warm our cold hearts that we may worthily praise you.

Almighty God, from whom we can never escape, even though we were able to ride on the wings of the wind, we stand ashamed before you, for we know how much we have departed from your ways. We have doubted your promises and rejected your will for us, so doing injury to ourselves and to the others whom we have failed to serve. All we can do is to throw ourselves on your mercy, seeking pardon and remission of our sins. Hear our prayer for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Heavenly Father, you support us all the day long, help us through the power of the Holy Spirit to grow in grace. Let not any coldness of our love restrict us in good deeds. Grant us vision that we may clearly discern your will and give us strong minds that our weakness might not cripple our good intentions. You have set before us the example of true human living in your son Jesus Christ. Make us strong to walk with him that like him we may ever help others to bear their burdens. This we ask in your dear Son’s name who has taught us when we pray to say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever. Amen

The readings

 James 1:16-27

St Luke 10:25-37

 CH$ 485 dear Lord and Father of Mankind

A thought for today

The parable of the Good Samaritan is probably the best known of the stories Jesus told. It is one that we can all remember clearly. It has had a particular relevance for so many of us during the long months of lockdown when we had to rely so much on others. Volunteering to help has become part and parcel of life for many.

Like all the parables a proper interpretation must rely on what was common knowledge at the time, for Jesus was telling a story that drew on things everyone knew and understood. Most of us are aware that there had been a long running dispute between the Jews and the Samaritans that centred on exactly where God should be worshipped.  For the Jews worship had to be at the temple in Jerusalem, but the Samaritans argued that God was to be found at Mount Gerazim where He hadbeen worshipped before David captured Jerusalem. It seems a rather pointless dispute now, but we have to remember it arose at a time when it was believed that God was only to be found in one particular place.

While the dispute in important for proper understanding of the story, there is more in it that guides a proper interpretation. Jesus set the parable on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. It was a steep and dangerous road. Jerusalem lies high up in the Judean hills while Jericho is well below sea level, almost at the lowest point on the surface of the earth. In just a few miles the road drops some 5,500 feet. The final stretch runs through a deep gorge where the track clings precariously to the cliff side. With its steep gradients and blind corners this was the perfect place for an ambush as everyone who heard Jesus knew well.

The initial reaction of those who heard the story might well have been that the traveller had been asking for trouble going down that road alone. And that he had got what he had been asking for. There would have been little surprise that the priest and Levite who came that way did not stop to help for something else well known was that the bandits on that stretch of road often used a decoy to entice unwary travellers to stop. Then there would not have been the criticism we usually feel for those two. In any case, like the injured man, they were travelling alone and could have done little to help, other than go on to the inn for assistance.

When Jesus mentions a Samaritan his hearers most likely thought that he was about to launch an attack. Though he had a donkey and could have rendered aid, they clearly expected to hear that he too passed on leaving the injured traveller lying.. Instead he stops, cleans up the man’s wounds, puts him on the donkey and takes him to the inn. It is to his credit that having the means to help he did and in fact did more than strictly necessary for not content with taking him out of danger he saw to it that he had proper care while he recovered from his wounds.

While we often regard the Jewish/Samaritan dispute as central to Jesus’ message this is not necessarily the case. As so often with a good story the sting is in the tail. Having caught hold of his hearers’ attention Jesus ends with “Go and do likewise!” The point of the parable is actions speak louder than words.

If we turn now to our other reading from James we find him emphasising that while faith is important by itself it is never enough. Unless it leads to action it can never be the driving force in our lives.  Here James is building on the teaching of Jesus. It is as though he is trying to explain the significance of going to do as the Samaritan did ought to have for Christian living.

During these last difficult months as we tried to cope with lockdown many became aware of the pressure on those who were most vulnerable who had to isolate for protection. If any good can be said to have come out of it all it is that so many tried to emulate the Good Samaritan. Without their help many would have had a much worse experience. By seeking to be doers of the Word and not hearers only so many have taken to heart the real message of this parable. What matters is not who others are or what they mean to us but that they are, like the injured traveller, people in need.

The care for them that has been showed in practical ways made all the difference. What we should remember is that rebuilding lives as we seek to come out of the pandemic will be long and laborious. For many the need for help and support will not go away overnight as recent developments have shown.

The Delta variant is clearly posing a threat because of its higher rate of transmission. The need to follow the rules matters as much as ever now for we have come a long way in recent weeks and dare not risk turning the clock back, which is why we were not with you last week. Like the travellers in the parable we are making a journey that is potentially dangerous. They had little choice for there was only the one road from Jerusalem to Jericho. We on the other hand have the choice of following the rules to keep ourselves and others as safe as possible or being over enthusiastic to grasp the greater freedoms afforded to us and risking an unnecessary resurgence of the virus.

 Hymn Would you walk by on the other side

Almighty God, the great creator, who looked on the first morning and saw that it was good, give us grace to appreciate all the good things we see and experience. We give thanks for the beauty of the earth, the wonders of nature and the sheer joy of being alive. We praise you for the love and friendship of family life with all its joys and sorrows. But above all we rejoice that you sent your son so that we can know you as a loving Father. For the Holy Spirit he sends to be with us, for the church he established to be our spiritual home we give thanks and praise this day.

God of Hope, Sustainer of all life, we give You thanks for the Coronavirus vaccines, for the skill and wisdom of scientists, NHS staff and Key Workers.    

By the power of Your Spirit, may we overflow with hope and joy as we see our friends, families and neighbours protected. God of Justice, Protector of the vulnerable, may we be your well-washed hands and willing feet. Move us to give and act, to challenge the injustices that anger You. May we seek to protect all Your children, particularly those for whom the vaccine is out of reach.

With hope and trust we pray,

Bless and preserve the Church of our Fathers as she seeks to meet the challenges of ministering to the modern world. Enable her to reach out to those who would turn their backs on you. Especially guide her that she might be able to draw in our young folk, for they are our future. Help us who claim allegiance to Christ to let our good deeds shine that our God might be praised.

Our God is a God of Peace. Through the power of the Holy Spirit enter into the hearts of the rulers of the nations to lead them away from any course of action that threatens peace and stability. There is too much conflict in the world. Take from the hearts of your children the distrust of others who are different before it can result in needless conflict.

Most merciful God, we bring to your throne of grace the needs of those less fortunate. Grant healing to the sick, relief to those in pain, comfort and peace of mind to the troubled and anxious. Remember in your mercy the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the refugee. Be with the dying and uphold with your love all who mourn the loss of loved ones.

With hope and trust we pray in the name of Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with god the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God for evermore.,

CH4 497 Almighty Father of all things that be

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