You open wide your hand O Lord and satisfy our needs.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
COLLECT FOR PURITY
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.
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.
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.
sung by Dougie Byers
whose providence orders all things in heaven and earth;
keep from us everything harmful,
and lead us to all that is good:
through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen
2 Samuel 11.1–15
read by Ron Beagrie
In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, ‘This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’
So, David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she was purifying herself after her period.) Then she returned to her house. The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, ‘I am pregnant.’ So, David sent word to Joab, ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’ And Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab and the people fared, and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, ‘Go down to your house, and wash your feet.’ Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. But Uriah slept at the entrance of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. When they told David, ‘Uriah did not go down to his house,’ David said to Uriah, ‘You have just come from a journey. Why did you not go down to your house?’ Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do such a thing.’ Then David said to Uriah, ‘Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.’ So, Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day. On the next day, David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house. In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. In the letter he wrote, ‘Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.’
Ephesians 2: 11-22
read by Annette Beagrie
I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
John 6: 1-21
read by Rev Janice Aiton
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St John chapter 6 beginning at verse 1
Glory to Christ our Saviour.
Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Jesus, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’
Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, ‘This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.’ When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, got into a boat, and started across the lake to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The lake became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land towards which they were going.
Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel
Praise to Christ our Lord
This weekend marked the official opening of the Toyko Summer Olympics. All eyes will be on Adam Peaty from Britain to see, if he wins the gold in his 100 metre breaststroke and if he breaks his own world record at Tokyo. He hopes to be a pace setter in breaststroke swimming.
Adam may well be the pace setter in 100 metre breaststroke swimming but Jesus is the pacesetter not only in working with people and dealing with relationships but also in solving problems. Jesus is out in front of them all, minutes ahead sizing up the situation providing the solutions before we even know what the problems are. He is the unique one, the measure by which all others gauge their lives. We see him in our Gospel reading, out in front sizing up the situation. Five thousand people or more are in front of him. They are in need not just of spiritual nourishment but also of physical nourishment, and so he says to Philip: ‘where shall we find bread for these people to eat?” Philips gives a realistic appraisal of the situation: Eight months wages would not be enough to feed everyone so much as a little nibble. But we are let in on a little secret. Jesus is testing and I think teasing Philip a bit here. Jesus already knows he will feed them by multiplying five small barley loaves and two small fish.
Indeed ‘the multiplication of the loaves’ is the old name given to this miracle story and it is most appropriate because the story is about vast numbers. At the start, five thousand men, plus women and children, two hundred denarii of bread, mentioned and immediately dismissed, a boy with five barley loaves and two fish. At the other end all are satisfied and twelve baskets of scraps are collected. The numbers are stated clearly enough. Between these numbers, holding them together is a mystery. He took the loaves, gave thanks and gave the loaves to those lying down. Then similarly with the fish- they had as much as they wanted.
The mystery doesn’t hide the abundance of the gift. Some theologians love to rationalise such miracle stories. One theory speculated that the crowds brought their sandwiches, but concealed them, until ashamed by the boy’s selfishness. Another that the meal was in the nature of a sacrament, so that no-one received more than a crumb, a mere taste on the tongue! However, if we live in the story, we soon see that such explanations run counter to the evangelist’s intention. Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. John does not intend us to imagine ‘a little something.’ Jesus gave and gave and gave and gave. On and on and on and on and on! Bread came streaming from him as much as they wanted! They were filled. Bread came in abundance, overflowing, a divine excess! In this extraordinary story of the inexhaustible supply of bread, pressed down, good measure and running over, John intends that we catch a glimpse of the sheer prodigality or generosity of Jesus. This is the Christ who gives life as God gives life. The line from the hymn “Guide me O thou great Jehovah” catches the mood. ‘Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more”- the lavish, superabundant, limitless, extravagant, generosity of Christ.’
This generosity of Jesus is something to behold! There is something truly exhilarating and marvellous about a God who does not know when to stop- and this is not the only incident. You will remember the time when Jesus at the wedding turned water into wine-21,000 glasses of the finest vintage for one little wedding party in a backwater village! There is also the occasion when the disciples are out fishing and they cannot catch anything and Jesus tells them to cast their net on the other side-and when they do their nets burst with the huge volume of fish! Here are three model miracles-of water into wine, feeding the multitudes and the catches of fish- that point towards a Christ who embodies divine generosity, even excess, there is too much wine; the nets break, there are twelve baskets of scraps. Jesus reveals a surprisingly, exhilarating and intoxicatingly extravagant God. The economics of Covid are having a profound effect on us all but today we look at the economics of heaven and there is no problems there – God’s generosity and abundance continue to overflow!
How do we tap into this generosity? I think that we only can tap into this generosity or become aware of the abundance of God when we share our limited resources with others. God’s generosity isn’t confined to the pages of the Bible or to some deep distant past. It is present all around us today too but often we don’t see it because we hold tightly to ourselves the things that God intends us to share. The feeding of the 5,000 began with the generous act of sharing by a young boy, who was probably hungry, but willingly reached out to others with the little that he had.
I guess the question arising from this miracle story is- How willing are we to share from the little we have? A missionary once asked a new convert, “Pablo, if you had a hundred sheep, would you give fifty of them to the Lord’s work? He answered, “You know I would gladly give them. Pablo, if you had fifty cows, would you give twenty-five to the Lord’s work? Yes, you know I would be more than happy to do that. Again, the missionary asked, “Pablo, if you had two pigs, would you give one of them to the Lord’s work?” That’s not fair,” Pablo replied. “You know I have two pigs. Many people are extremely generous in theory but in practice they find it difficult. We witnessed this recently in the government in regard to foreign aid cuts. Their cuts in aid will affect the most vulnerable and as the super article in our church magazine entitled “Charity begins at home..? says: “it is a failure in kindness and empathy: it is a breach of a promise made in the United Nations and it is shortsighted in the impact of failing to address humanitarian issues which will cause problems elsewhere-as in the case of increasing the number of refugees fleeing terrible situation in their home countries.”
It may be difficult in practice to give generously but only then are our eyes opened more fully to God’ generosity. This was true for a Christian worker in Africa who raised his 6 children on $10 a month. He told the story of how children in his village were going blind because of a disease that could be prevented with medicine that only cost 50 cents. He began to pray and ask God to send a rich person to their village to help give the money for the medicine, but no one ever came. As he kept praying, the Lord told him he should give the money to buy the medicine. But with 6 children and only a $10 a month salary, he couldn’t see how he could do this. But he and his family prayed and decided that every month they would buy the medicine to help one child. He has been doing this for 7 years and has saved 84 children from going blind. Not only has his generosity saved many lives but this family can testify to how God met all their needs and how they experienced first- hand God’s amazing generosity.
Do we really believe in God’s amazing generosity-not just in our heads but in our hearts? What would happen, if the church consisted of men and women who had been infected by the divine generosity and couldn’t help spreading it around? Generosity works miracles. Several years ago, I saw the film Babette’s feast. I found it profoundly moving. It is set in a narrow, pietistic rural community in nineteenth century Denmark. Babette a refugee from Paris has been taken in by two sisters and has become the family cook. Both sisters have in different ways stifled and denied their gifts and talents and now live lives of rectitude. Whilst commendable, their lives are so restricting and oh so boring!
Unbeknown to the sisters Babette wins 10,000 francs in the lottery and decides to use the whole amount to cook a meal such as no-one in the community could ever have imagined. The meal is indeed beyond all imagining and we watch in fascination as the group of twelve round the table are transformed. At first, they are stiff and correct, determined not to enjoy what they are eating. Then they begin to relax, conversation eases, there is laughter, appreciative words, confession of long held grudges and a rediscovery of community and friendship. It is no exaggeration to say that the group rediscovers life through the meal. Towards the end of the film, we discover that Babette was once the head chef at the famous Cafe Anglais in Paris. Her generosity and extravagance had a transforming effect on those around her.
The parallel with the grace and generosity of God are easy to draw. Babette gave a lifetime of skill at enormous cost to the one project of cooking a meal that would transform the lives of those who ate it. Today those who eat the bread and wine of the Eucharist will be transformed. Transformed thanks to the enormous cost of Jesus’ project of saving us! Transformed thanks to Jesus’ generosity in giving everything for us- even his life! This heavenly generosity knows no bounds!
This heavenly generosity is freely given to us, just as freely as it was in the story of the feeding of the five thousand. In this miracle story, Jesus offers us a pattern of how we might approach problems or challenges that are too much, too big, too difficult for us. We start with the most important of all, we pray. We do that each and every week we meet-we pray for the world, for its needs, for the church and for everyone in need. We lift our eyes like Jesus to heaven and praise God.
The next step after prayer is to feed people. Feed them with the love and knowledge of Jesus. Feed people until they are satisfied, until there is too much to go round. With enough knowledge and enough love, then enormous issues of poverty and starvation in our world will be tackled because people will be transformed and will reach out in generosity and love to help others. We are invited to do the small things in front of us and witness, by God’s touch, amazing things happen. In our generous giving of time, skill and money we aim to be pace setters in the Heavenly Olympics of care and love. Amen.
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.
Knowing that our loving God
supplies all our needs
let us pray to him now
on behalf of the church and the world.
you choose to work your purpose and love
through us the church, your holy body.
help us to reflect your generosity
and to be your hands of love and care to others.
give us our daily bread
you never gave up or abandoned your people
but met them at their physical and spiritual points of need.
may we not forget or ignore those in difficulty
but generously help them
in whatever ways we can.
give us our daily bread
Generous God, you have blessed us with many gifts
and we thank –you especially for the gift
of education and technology.
We are grateful for the benefits they bring to our lives
and as we read and watch the news
help us to take to heart,
those struggling in different parts of the world,
and we lift them to you in prayer.
We pray for the Middle East with all its internal turmoil
and ask for cessation of hostilities and for peace.
We lift to you in the quiet-
the broken and damaged countries
and communities in our world,
thinking particularly of West Germany and China in the recent flooding,
seeking your help, support and restoration.
give us our daily bread
we offer to you our homes and relationships
for you to generously work in and transform.
We offer you our meetings and conflicts
and ask that your will is done
and your love and kindness prevail.
give us our daily bread
Generous God, we lift to you all
all who suffer or are heavily burdened;
hear us as we pray for their comfort and refreshment,
wholeness and restoration,
but above all for the consciousness
of your presence in their pain and your love for them.
In the quiet of our hearts,
we bring to you people known to us,
and ask for your holy touch and healing.
give us our daily bread
Generous God, you call all in faith to yourself,
be especially close to those
who are coming to the end of their earthly lives.
Prepare them for the heavenly place
you have for them,
and be with their families,
as they reluctantly let them come to you.
Give to all a holy death and a heavenly welcome.
give us our daily bread
Generous God, in
whom we live and have our being,
fills us with gratitude for all we have,
and help us to count our blessings
and give you our praise.
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.
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
Go or stay in peace to love and serve the Lord. In the name of Christ.