EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST 18TH JULY 2021

OPENING SENTENCE

The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.

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 Sue Turner

COLLECT

O God of power and might,

all good things belong to you:

sow in our hearts the love of your name,

and make us grow in the life of faith;

nurture the things that are good,

and tend them with your loving care;

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 7:1-14
read by Andrew Ratnam

Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings.

SECOND READING
EPHESIANS 2: 11-22
read by Robyn Brotherston

So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 

So, he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

HYMN

GOSPEL READING
MARK 6: 30-34, 53-56
read by Rev Steven Ballard

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Mark chapter 6 beginning at verse 30

Glory to Christ our Saviour.

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”

For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel

Praise to Christ our Lord

SERMON

When our phones are running out of power and need to be recharged, they give us a warning saying that you have only 10% battery life remaining. In our own lives, we too can be running out of power and we too get warning signs. These warning signs may be fatigue, irritability, stress, apathy, indifference and loss of joy. We need to heed these warning signs, for if we don’t, we could burnout.

Burnout can happen to anyone; it is no respecter of persons. Burn out is a growing phenomenon, especially since as a people, we seem somehow to have bought into a hyper-exaggerated version of the old Protestant Work Ethic. While this work ethic has always been in our culture to some degree or other, there is now a pervasive sense that people are evaluated by the tasks that they accomplish. How many times are we asked after a purchase to complete a survey or evaluation on how well we were served? Our culture is increasingly obsessed with performance and doing. It is interested in accomplishments and success.

Do not get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with accomplishment and success in themselves but if they become our overriding goals, then we risk being overstretched, stressed and burnt out. Jesus was acutely aware of the need for balance in our lives between being and doing. Everywhere Jesus went, people flocked to him. At one point in Mark’s Gospel, we are told: “so many people were coming and going that Jesus and his disciples did not even have a chance to eat.” That coming and going provided a chaotic atmosphere for Jesus’ ministry. That chaos meant that even before Jesus got to a town, the mass of admirers and hangers-on rushed ahead of him and waited for his arrival. Mark points out that people “ran throughout that whole region of the Gennesaret and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.” Jesus knew that life includes heavy demands and hard work. Life has to have a counterpoint of rest, a time of recouping, and a healthy rhythm. Without that rhythm, life can become distorted, dishevelled, and diseased. People in the marketplace must be balanced by meeting God in a quiet place. That’s why Jesus took his disciples to a deserted place, a place of solitude.

The twelve disciples had had an exhilarating, but exhausting, experience. This was the first time they were on their own without Jesus with them. You will remember that they had preached, they casted out demons, they anointed the sick, and they called people to respond to God by changing their lives. As Jesus listened to each “team” report, he must have been moved by their tender stories of healing children, inspiring people, and boldly witnessing to Jesus. But the Lord must have seen fatigue in their faces and so, in a gracious moment of concern, Jesus said to them: Come away for a while and rest. I know a place close by ~ just across the lake ~ a deserted place, literally a bit of wilderness.

Come away and rest …what beautiful words … an invitation to step out of all the bustle and activity of life. Rest … a chance to slow down, to change the pace. Come away for a while and rest. There is something both beautiful and poignant about Jesus’ response to the disciples’ activity. When they come back to tell about all they’d done, he doesn’t greet them with praise or encouragement. That might seem odd to us who live in the “age of affirmation.” Nor does he correct them or do an assessment of their work, as one might expect from a teacher. Rather, he looks deeper and sees their need. They are weary, tired, worn out by the constant coming and going of the crowds that follow them. And so rather than praise or affirm, encourage or critique, Jesus invites them to come away, to find a moment of solitude, and to rest. There will be time for praise and instruction later. What is most needful now is rest.

There is wisdom here that all of us need to hear. There is a time for activity and a time for rest. We live in a culture that is much better equipped to help us meet the first need but often tempts us to ignore the latter. Yet these are not two different options, they are two symbiotic elements that together create a purposeful life. You cannot do without times of not doing.

We know this…partially. That is, while we know we need both, we consign doing to the daytime and rest to night. But our nights keep getting shorter, illumined and interrupted by the relentless glare of artificial light and the piercing glow of the computer screen. And, besides, this isn’t just about rest, it is about retreat, about a change, about solitude and a time together. He says, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”.

As restrictions are lifted and we are more in the market place again, care needs to be taken to ensure that we have rest in our lives and that we take time to come to the quiet place. It is all too easy to overload our lives again with activities and before long we feel drained, exhausted and are running on empty with nothing to give. You will hear yourself or others say: “I need a break.” “I have too much going on.” “I feel overwhelmed.” “I am not coping.” I am stressed out.” The common areas of overload are too many activities, worries or choices, too much information to process and the pace and speed of life.

The pace and speed of life can easily lead us to being stressed and burnout. To prevent this occurring, we need to take certain steps in our lives. The first time may sound obvious but nonetheless it needs to be said. We need to accept our human limitations. We cannot undertake to do everything- there is a limit to what we can and should do. We live in a culture where there are no limits. The culture says, if you set your mind on it, you will achieve it. Nothing is beyond you. Nothing is out of your grasp. Nothing is beyond your limit. Really!!! This is simply not true! We have physical, mental, emotional and mental limits. We tend to overestimate our capabilities. So firstly, we need to know our own limits, and each one of us will have different limits depending on our capability, health and age.

Secondly, we need to ask ourselves what is my motivation in life, what drives me to overload my schedule, is it insecurity, is it the need to impress, is it that I don’t want time to think and be alone, or am I trying to earn my salvation? Thirdly, we need to build in buffer zones into our schedule to allow breathing time between activities, this will reduce stress and prevent burnout. Fourthly we need to prune our activities and cultivate the ability, where appropriate, to say no.

Fifthly we need to walk and learn with Jesus. He invited the disciples to a quiet place for this was what he did himself in life. He knew the need for retreat so that he would be refreshed and renewed to continue with power in his ministry. We see this as a continual pattern in

Jesus’ life.

“Early in the morning, while it was still dark, he rose up and went out, and departed into a deserted place, and prayed there” It seems that the disciples didn’t see the need for Jesus to be doing this when there was so much to be done. They searched for Jesus. 

When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” In other words, “Jesus, there’s a lot to be done. Let’s get busy”. But Jesus knew to do the tasks required, this retreat was essential.

We can learn from Jesus. He was never too busy or too overwhelmed by everything that was happening in his life to take time out with his heavenly Father and pray. Of course, we can pray anywhere, even on the busiest street corner. But we can collect our thoughts a lot better when we are alone, apart from the noise and the hustle of the crowd, fixing our thoughts on God and talking to him about what is on our hearts and in minds at that time. Yes, Jesus had important things to do, nevertheless, he took time to go to a quiet place and pray. Henri Nouwen said: “In solitude we become aware that our worth is not the same as our usefulness.”

Our worth comes from our solitude and times spent with God. This rhythm of meeting God in the secret place is vital. Whilst prayer comes easier to some than others, for most it is a struggle. The problem is that prayer can be like exercise. If we go to the gym once, we don’t see much in the way of results. We may be more tired or a little sore but we don’t feel better and we still weigh as much. We don’t gain the benefit of exercise in one visit and we don’t usually notice the change at the time we are working out. It is in the steady discipline of doing our exercises that we receive the benefits from it. So, it is in the steady waiting, listening and communing with God that leads to balance, inner strength and the ability to serve well.

This steady waiting, listening and communing with God is what we do when we gather together for worship. In essence, Sunday is a way of having a “quiet place” in every week. In that quiet place we are renewed, refreshed and encouraged in our faith. Many would have a quiet place in their day; a time when they draw aside to read scripture and to pray. That quiet time in the day of meditation, of waiting and resting in God, is seen now by health experts as beneficial to our overall health and well- being. When we lean on God, have intimacy with him, and trust him, we are better equipped to live healthy lives, enjoy healthy relationships and be there for one another. The significance and importance of “Come with me to a quiet place” can never be understated. Indeed, it is an essential component in our spiritual lives. 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, true shepherd of your sheep

you gathered your disciples around you.

Draw your church close to you,

and when your disciples are weary and exhausted,

renew and refresh us in your life and love.

The Lord is my shepherd

There is nothing I want.

Jesus, true shepherd of your people,

you break down the divisions

of birth and creed.

Unite as one body

in our love, mission and service.

The Lord is my shepherd

There is nothing I want.

Jesus, true shepherd of your sheep,

give rest to the weary

and all those whose work

brings them to the point of exhaustion.

We lift to you all frontline workers

and pray for their strength and renewal.

The Lord is my shepherd

There is nothing I want.

Jesus, true shepherd of your people

look with compassion

on all who are struggling at this time,

with broken relationships,

with financial difficulties

and with business concerns.

Draw them close to you

and meet them at their point of need.

The Lord is my shepherd

There is nothing I want.

Jesus, true shepherd of your sheep

protect those whose lives are in danger

as a result of conflict, famine and disease.

We lift to you especially at this time Afghanistan and Hong Kong

and ask for peace and safety.

The Lord is my shepherd

There is nothing I want.

Jesus, true shepherd of your sheep

with the losing of covid restrictions,

help us to be considerate and mindful

of those who are vulnerable and afraid.

Hold them in your arms

and shield them from harm.

The Lord is my shepherd

There is nothing I want.

Jesus true shepherd of your sheep

come with your healing touch

to all who are suffering in body, mind or spirit.

Enfold them in your love and care.

The Lord is my shepherd

There is nothing I want.

Jesus true shepherd of your sheep

we bring before all you have died

and pray that perpetual light

might shine upon them

and they may rise in glory.

The Lord is my shepherd

There is nothing I want.

Jesus true shepherd of the sheep

guard our hearts and minds.

Give us the longing and desire

to come with you

to a quiet place and rest.

The Lord is my shepherd

There is nothing I want.

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.