Sunday 2nd July: Trinity 4: Matthew 10 40-42
He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives the One who sent Me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is My disciple, truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward.”
Jesus was telling his disciples that they will be representing him when they go out into the world; when people respond to them, they are responding to Jesus’ call to follow him. When his disciples help the people they meet, they are doing this in God’s name, and they will be rewarded.
Do we always remember this? When we too help someone, listen to someone, respond to someone’s needs – we are doing this in God’s name as if we are doing it for him. What can you do this week for someone else which you know Jesus might be doing if he were here? What is he asking you to do on his behalf?
Sunday 9th July: Trinity 5 Matthew 11 25-30
At that time Jesus declared, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned,and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Jesus is urging his followers to follow him by doing what he calls them to do. We are not just to listen and continue in our old ways. We are to try and be the people God wants us to be – but this doesn’t mean taking on more work, more worries, more stress. It means trying to discern what God wants for us in our lives – always knowing that he never asks us to do more than we can cope with. Whatever is needed, he will provide, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.
Is there anything you are putting off facing at the moment as you feel you haven’t the resources, the time, the qualities to deal with it? Take it to God, and ask for his help – he is waiting to take the weight from you and give you the power, step by step, to meet and deal with everything which happens in your life.
Sunday 16th July: Matthew 13 1-9, 18-23
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around Him that He got into a boat and sat down, while all the people stood on the shore. And He told them many things in parables, saying, “A farmer went out to sow his seed. And as he was sowing, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Some fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun rose, the seedlings were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the seedlings. Still other seed fell on good soil and produced a crop—a hundredfold, sixtyfold, or thirtyfold. He who has ears, let him hear. Consider, then, the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the message of the kingdom but does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he remains for only a season. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The seed sown among the thorns is the one who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But the seed sown on good soil is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and produces a crop—a hundredfold, sixtyfold, or thirtyfold.”
This well-known parable, or story, of the sower and the seed was used by Jesus to help the crowds understand what he was trying to tell them. It wasn’t enough just to sit and listen to his stories and to tell each other he was a wonderful teacher. They needed to act on it – to take on board what he was saying and let it impact their lives.
So with us – it isn’t enough just to go to church each Sunday, take part, listen to a sermon explaining part of the Bible; we need to put what we are hearing into action. Jesus passionately wants us to hear his word and love him so that our lives are transformed – made new, made meaningful, made responsive to his call. This is exciting stuff – are we ready to say yes to his call and really try to live it out every day of the week of our lives – not just Sundays?
Sunday 23rd July: St. Margaret’s Sunday: Matthew 21 12-16
Then Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those selling doves. And He declared to them, “It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” The blind and the lame came to Him at the temple, and He healed them. But the chief priests and scribes were indignant when they saw the wonders He performed and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked. “Yes,” Jesus answered. “Have you never read: ‘From the mouths of children and infants You have ordained praise’?”
Jesus couldn’t bear to see God’s temple a place where extortionate rates were being charged for people wanting to make an offering; where rules abounded set down by the Pharisees, not by God himself, which made people’s lives so difficult. He threw out of the temple all those selling and dealing, and then carried out the work he was sent by God to do – healing, teaching, loving the people.
This is our calling too; not to look on our faith as complying with a set of rules – though there are some which God has laid down for us to guide us. Our faith calls us to respond with love to all those we meet, every situation in which we find ourselves – and to go beyond the basic call of duty. To draw alongside others, feel their pain, their need – and respond to it, with God’s help. Do you know anyone you could help in this way this week – even by a phone call, an encouraging smile, a willingness to listen?
Sunday 30th July: Trinity 8: Matthew 13 31-33 44-52
He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man planted in his field. Although it is the smallest of all seeds, yet it grows into the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and mixed into three measures of flour, until all of it was leavened. The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and in his joy he went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one very precious pearl, he went away and sold all he had and bought it. Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the men pulled it ashore. Then they sat down and sorted the good fish into containers but threw the bad away. So will it be at the end of the age: The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous, and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Have you understood all these things?” “Yes,” they answered.
By his parables Jesus was teaching the people all he could about God and his Kingdom – what he wants us to do with our lives – the way we should respond to his love. Little tiny acts can, with God’s help, grow into amazing results – and this makes us realise the small things we do are as important as the major decisions in our lives. The welcoming smile, the ability to see good in the people we meet, even if they are quite different from us; the carrying out of daily repetitive tasks cheerfully – this is God’s Kingdom, God’s way – it is our calling.
What small thing can you do this week to make a difference in someone else’s life?