Welcome


TENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

1ST AUGUST 2021

OPENING SENTENCE

I know my transgressions, O God; and my sin is ever before me.

HYMN

GREETING

Grace and peace to you from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

COLLECT FOR PURITY

Almighty God
to whom all hearts be open
all desires known
and from whom no secrets are hidden;
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you
and worthily magnify your holy name
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

SUMMARY OF THE LAW

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. Amen. Lord, have mercy.

CONFESSION

God is love and we are God’s children.
There is no room for fear in love.
We love because God loved us first.
Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.

God our Father, we confess to you
and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ
that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,
and in what we have failed to do.
We are truly sorry.
Forgive us our sins,
and deliver us from the power of evil,
for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

ABSOLUTION

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

GLORIA
sung by Annabelle Guthrie

COLLECT

Grant to us, Lord,
the spirit to think on those things that are right,
and always to be ready to do them;
that we, who, without you, cannot be alive,
may have the strength to live according to your will;
through Jesus Christ, our Lord
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen

FIRST READING
2 Samuel 11.26 – 12.13a
read by Kate Lidwell

When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him7 When the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD. The LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, ‘There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meagre fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveller to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.’ Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, ‘As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.’ Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man!

Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the LORD: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbour, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.’ David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ Nathan said to David, ‘Now the LORD has put away your sin; you shall not die.’

SECOND READING
EPHESIANS 4.1–16
read by Margaret Morton

I, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it is said, ‘When he ascended on high, he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.’ (When it says, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.)

The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

HYMN

GOSPEL READING
JOHN 6:24-35
read by Rev Janice Aiton

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St John chapter 6 beginning at verse 24

Glory to Christ our Saviour.

When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were at the place where Jesus had given the bread, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the lake, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.’ Then they said to him, ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’

So they said to him, ‘What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel

Praise to Christ our Lord

SERMON

Thirty odd years ago, whilst I was working for Scripture Union in Edinburgh, Lothian and the Borders, I worshipped in St Peter’s Episcopal Church in Musselburgh. One late afternoon I had a visit from the Rector, a great theologian and academic. I welcomed him into my home and once seated he asked me a question. There was no small talk, or casual conversation beforehand, nor was there any preamble to his question. His question was: Janice, do you live by the law or by the spirit? To say, I was taken aback by his question is an understatement, but somehow, I responded. I replied that whilst I wanted to live by the spirit, I suspected that on many occasions I lived by the law. In other words, I probably was relying and trusting in my own resources and strength rather than accepting the free gift of Jesus and trusting in his sufficiency. Needless to say, this led to a long and deep theological discussion which was interesting, albeit exhausting. I don’t think I have had a pastoral visit like it before or since. What was the outcome of the Rector’s visit? After considerable reflection, I think it was challenging me to remember that Jesus is sufficient and that I need to trust more in his resources and strength, for he alone can satisfy our hunger and restlessness.

The Rector and I did not talk about today’s gospel reading but it would have been appropriate for it speaks about the sufficiency of Jesus. Last Sunday we looked at the multiplication of the loaves, more commonly known as the feeding of the 5,000, where we learned that the people were hungry. They had listened for hours and hours to Jesus’ teaching, and they were in need of a meal. The people would more than likely be living a hand to mouth existence, and Jesus is sensitive to their physical and spiritual needs. It is said that during the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette was advised that her subjects were hungry; that they had no bread. Her response was let them eat cake. She showed no empathy or concern for them, whereas Jesus was deeply moved by the need of the crowd who followed him and provided an abundance of bread and fish, so that they all had as much as they wanted. This miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 is not just a miracle about providing, it is designed to say something about Jesus and what he can offer us. The miracle is a signpost to what really satisfies.

Jesus refers to himself as the one who satisfies: “I am the bread of life.” In other words, I am sufficient for you. I am all you need. Indeed, he challenges the people gathered to see that he is their sufficiency. He does so by indicating that there are four types of people following him. The first he refers to as the Materialist. They are the ones, who are out for what they can get. Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” 

When Jesus said this, further on in the chapter we are told that the people grumbled, mumbled, argued, whined, and in the end left. We are told “from this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” They were simply materialists out for one thing, what they could get. What these materialist folks couldn’t stomach was when Jesus shifted from physical food to spiritual talk. They were only interested in what they could get out of Jesus. They were not at all interested in a living relationship – only in the gifts that Jesus would give. I suspect that is still true today, outside and inside the church there are people who are materialists, not interested in a living relationship with Jesus but rather what they can get out of him. The materialists were caught up in getting things and were eating bread that spoils. Jesus is drawing us to himself saying feed on him the BREAD OF LIFE- he is our provider and he is sufficient for us. He is enough for us.

The second type was the Legalist. They asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” If these people couldn’t get a free lunch, they at least wanted a list of rules they could hang on to. Throughout Christian history, the church has often fallen into the sin of legalism. The problem is, it’s easier to make rules than to build relationships. Jesus wants to live in the heart of every individual believer. He has sent his Spirit to write His Law on our hearts. He calls every one of us to study His word for ourselves and learn from Him. When we do that, the church enjoys an amazing unity in morals and principles. But the problem is that some people simply don’t want a deep relationship with God. They’d rather find a strong leader and memorize a set of rules. Jesus had no interest in these so -called followers. Jesus came to build relationships, not rules. When the crowd demanded a list of works, Jesus gave this surprising answer: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” As amazing as it sounds, Jesus wants a genuine love relationship with every one of us. That kind of relationship can’t be bought with goodies, and it can’t be built on rules. The MATERIALISTS wanted the goodies more than they wanted God. The LEGALISTS wanted the Law but not the Giver of that law.

SENSATIONALIST

The third type was the Sensationalist. These people asked Jesus: “What miraculous sign will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?” Really… what an absurd question! Jesus has just fed over 5,000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread. The very next day, they are asking him for a sign! Obviously, the miracle of feeding the 5,000 gave them enough faith to climb in boats and row all the way across the lake to find Jesus, but it was not enough to last until the next morning. Churches today are filled with people who have an insatiable appetite for spiritual excitement, but lack commitment. Jesus did not come to give us endless spiritual highs. He came to give us a chance to know Him- the BREAD OF LIFE.

The fourth type is the person who accepts the one who came down from heaven-a genuine disciple- the Pietist. The pietist looks at the emotional and personal aspects of a living faith with Jesus. The pietist seeks a living relationship with Jesus himself and is not caught up in the externals of religion, of whether something is done this way or that way, whether it is a screen or books, whether it is this hymn or that prayer. The pietist focus is on worshipping Jesus, being in his presence, living in a relationship with him. The pietist is the one who trusts and leans on God and finds God to be sufficient- to be all he or she needs in good and difficult times. The pietist is the true believer, who knows Jesus personally and depends on him.

They know that Jesus is more than a prophet. He is God. Indeed, Jesus by saying the words “I am” is making his own claim to deity. This statement “I am the bread of life” is the first of the “I AM” statements in John’s Gospel. There are seven “I am” sayings in total. The phrase “I AM” is the covenant name of God revealed to Moses at the burning bush. The phrase speaks of self-sufficient existence or what theologians refer to as “aseity”, which is an attribute only God possesses. It is also a phrase the Jews who were listening would have automatically understood as a claim to deity. Jesus declares that he himself is the bread of life, the bread that came down from heaven. Whoever believes in him will never be hungry.

The promise that Jesus gave that day to the Galileans holds true for us today. This promise will be fulfilled later in this service, in the Eucharist that we will share. If there is something that we all share in this church family, it is the same hunger. We hunger for a love that does not disappoint: we hunger for a word that does not fade away; we hunger for food that does not spoil. Today we are nourished with words from Scripture and by the bread of the Eucharist that satisfy.

As we continually need physical food, so we need spiritual food. We need Jesus and we need church. We must not decry the church, imperfect as it is, for it is the bride of Jesus. The church is there to support, nurture, encourage and strengthen us. There will be many times, when we feel our spirits are uplifted; when we feel encouraged and renewed and that we were glad to be in church. There will be times when we are at church and we wish that we were elsewhere, times when what happens in the service will leave us untouched, times when we will be distracted by a litany of worries that refuse to go away. Sometimes we have to be content with the act of faith that brings us here, a public admission of our need for God and the people of God. In coming to church, we declare that we cannot fall back on our own resources: we need Jesus, the bread of life to sustain us. Staying hungry for his bread means that we do indeed long for the food that does not spoil but endures to eternal life. This is what Jesus asks of us: indeed, Jesus says “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent,” the Bread of life. Amen

NICENE CREED

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one substance with the Father.

Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.

With the Father and the Son,
he is worshipped and glorified.

He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Jesus, Bread of Life

we pray for a deepening hunger,

for heavenly things.

Loosen our grip

on all that is materialistic,

legalistic and sensationalist,

and give us a heart

like the pietist

that is devoted and committed wholeheartedly to you.

Holy Spirit come,

and feed us with the Bread of Life.

Jesus, Bread of Life

nourish our public life

with your divine wisdom.

Inspire us to look beyond immediate needs

and shallow pleasures,

and root us more and more

in your love and joy.

Holy Spirit come,

and feed us with the Bread of Life.

Jesus, Bread of Life, feed your church

with the gifts of faith and trust.

Equip us for the ministry you have called us all to,

and through worship and service

grant that we may grow into maturity in union with you.

Holy Spirit come,

and feed us with the Bread of Life.

Jesus, Bread of Life,

Sustain our life

with your gifts of sufficient food and water.

Give us the will to ensure

that none go hungry or are malnourished.

We lift to you Yemen, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria

thanking you for the aid agencies that work in these areas

and we pray that the basic needs of the people there will be met.

Help us to play our part in supporting the aid agencies.

Holy Spirit come,

and feed us with the Bread of Life.

Jesus, Bread of Life,

revive all who are weary and exhausted,

with your gift of patient hope.

Strengthen and uphold them in their pain and sufferings.

Refresh them with the knowledge

of your presence, love and care.

Holy Spirit come,

and feed us with the Bread of Life.

Jesus, Bread of Life,

be with those,

in the different parts of the world,

who in the recent flooding,

have lost everything,

and we ask that they will receive

the right help and support

to rebuild their lives.

Carry them in your loving arms

in these days of doubt and fear.

Holy Spirit come,

and feed us with the Bread of Life.

Jesus, Bread of Life

restore in us the gift of eternal life.

Hear our prayer

as we remember those who have died.

Grant us to share with them

in the eternal banquet of your love.

Holy Spirit come,

and feed us with the Bread of Life.

Jesus, Bread of life,

you gave your all for us.

May we give our all to you,

and in you be satisfied.

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Do not bring us to the time of trial
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

HYMN

BLESSING

The peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord:
and the blessing of God the Father,
the Son and Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen

DISMISSAL

Go or stay in peace to love and serve the Lord. In the name of Christ.

9 Responses

  1. Thank you Janice for an excellent newsletter and virtual service. It is amazing that COVID came also just as social media blossomed (or not so amazing). in 2004, I was involved in the design and dedication of a memorial to the Royal Auxiliary Air Force at the National Memoriail Arboretum in Staffordshire, At the foot of the facing panel, I added the words `And they shall rise up with wings as eagles’ Memories came flooding back

  2. Hi Janice,

    Sorry to see the bruises on your face from the dental work. I hope you are not in too much pain. Enjoyed the Sunday service. I watched the recording.

  3. Finally found how to access St John’s online and thoroughly enjoyed it particularly your thought provoking sermon with lots of background information Thank you for looking after us in the pandemic Keep well Love Rosie and Terry

  4. I welcome this sermon and indeed the sermon I had best valued was one when the preacher ended his sermon :

    ” Do not have any expectations of me and I will not have any expectations of you”

    Welcome words to any members of a clergy family!
    Joan x

  5. Dear Janice,
    I’m ashamed to say that I’ve only just discovered the St John’s web site!! Thank you for all that you are doing and lovely images which give food for thought. I saw you on zoom at the retreat last week but then you disappeared – I hope you enjoyed it. On Sundays I’ve been watching the SEC eucharists on YouTube usually with lovely organ music.
    Blessings and love from Ann

  6. Hi Janice,
    I haven’t been coming to church because I am shielding my self as well as shielding my two very elderly parents, ( Mum is 94 years years old this December and Dad is 96 years old this coming March ) they are my main reason for not coming to church, but I get too come to our church on line of which I am greatly pleased, thank you for that wonderful service this morning God bless.

  7. We pray for Janice and hold her before His healing power.

    Thank Janice that we can worship on line , because for us at home “God does not live in houses made with hands” but on the airwaves

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