26TH JUNE 2022
Your footsteps O Lord were not seen
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.
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 Billy Dewar Riddick
O Lord, the protector of all who trust in you,
without whom nothing can be whole
and nothing can be holy:
increase your mercy towards us,
that, with you as our ruler and guide,
we may so enjoy the good things of time,
as not to lose the things of eternity;
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 Kings 2: 1-2, 6-14
read by David Kerr
Elijah Ascends to Heaven
Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.
Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and the two of them crossed on dry ground.
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing, yet if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.
Elisha Succeeds Elijah
He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water. He said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah? Where is he?” He struck the water again, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha crossed over.
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
read by Kay Solaja
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become enslaved to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
The Works of the Flesh
Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The Fruit of the Spirit
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
read by Rev Janice Aiton
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Luke chapter 9 beginning at verse 51
Glory to Christ our Saviour.
A Samaritan Village Refuses to Receive Jesus
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to prepare for his arrival, but they did not receive him because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.
Would-Be Followers of Jesus
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” And Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel
Praise to Christ our Lord
Today marks the end of Refugee Week. On Monday it was World Refugee Day with the theme: “Whoever. Wherever. Whenever. Everyone has the right to safety, whoever they are, wherever they come from and whenever they are forced to flee.” The amount of forcibly displaced people has reached a staggering number—nearly 100 million and the number only continues to increase.
We long for this crisis to be abated and we try to do all in our power to support those agencies who are helping refugees. It is hard to imagine how tough life must be without any sense of belonging to a particular country and people. Only those who have stood in these people’s shoes fully understand the complexities of their situation and the hardships they have to contend with.
Christ himself understood their difficulties and plight. In today’s reading, Jesus speaks of his lifestyle, where he has no fixed abode that he can call his own. He says: “foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head. In his infant years, Jesus too had to flee and live life as a refugee. He can relate to the refugees. The life of a refugee is not what is being advocated by Jesus here. It would be wrong to think that in today’s scriptural passage, Jesus is encouraging such a lifestyle. On the contrary Jesus is concerned about the wellbeing of people and wants the best for them. What today’s passage is concerned about is commitment.
Commitment was in Jesus’ time a matter of concern and it still is today. Some have described our society, today, as having a “drop out” mentality. In other words, if things are not working out for people, rather than persevere and stay committed, they lack stickability and simply drop out.
Jesus is challenging people in our gospel about their commitment. He is looking specifically at our faith commitment, and asking us to prioritise it above all. For no relationship is more important than our relationship with God- whom we are called to love with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and flowing from that love relationship will be a love for neighbour, in other words, our refugee friends.
Let us look at Jesus’ sense of commitment. The life of Jesus is not a series of unforeseen events. There is an overarching plan, a divine strategy. The goal of Jesus’ life as the writer Luke says is to be “taken up.” However, Ascension can only happen, if Jesus walks the road to Jerusalem, to the place of death and resurrection. Therefore, Jesus summons his courage and determination and moves towards the penultimate events of death and resurrection in the Holy City. Jesus himself models commitment to the Father, and demonstrates to all his disciples what true commitment is.
Whilst we will not walk the path of Christ literally, we are invited to follow him and give our allegiance or commitment to him. In our gospel, we meet three people who express a desire to follow Jesus and be committed to him. I suppose they are a bit like the seed that falls on rocky ground and struggles to thrive among the thorns. These three potential disciples express a desire to commit to Jesus but are choked by other concerns. You might refer to these three people as the desirous disciple, the distracted disciple and the divided disciple.
The desirous disciple has met Jesus along the road. His enthusiasm is captured in his absolutist language. He will follow Jesus wherever he goes. I suspect this desirous disciple has not considered the cost of following because Jesus is on his way to the cross. Has he even considered this or is he caught up in all the spectacles he has witnessed along the way? He is probably revelling in his experience of being with Jesus. He could see miracles, hear the wise words of Christ and feel His tender touch. Although this desirous disciple is caught up in the euphoria of it all, Jesus breaks in with an amazing statement about His life as a nomad and tries to root this desirous disciple’s zeal in reality. Jesus ripped away the romanticism of what it meant to be with Him. He did not simply say wonderful. He was trying to help this follower understand that though it is nice to be together, share God’s love, see His power, but there are rough parts to carrying out the Father’s will. It was Corrie Ten Boom who said “A true disciple, has “shallow tent pegs. Why shallow? Because we’re moving on in the morning!”
Not all disciples will live a nomadic life but the cost of commitment and discipleship has to be weighed up with that as a distinct possibility, as well as the continual struggle to bring about a new understanding of God and create a society based on this new understanding. Any eager desire to follow Jesus must reckon with the difficulties of never belonging to what appears the natural ways and norms of society as it is.
It would be interesting to know the response of the desirous disciple but we are not told. However, we are introduced to the distracted disciple, who is responding to Jesus’ invitation to follow him. He replies: “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” On the surface, this request seems very normal and indeed necessary, so much so that Jesus’ response sounds harsh. However, it is helpful to know the customs and culture of the day.
Based on Jesus’ response, it is apparent that the young man’s father was not dead and awaiting burial. Rather, the young man had employed a common saying of the day which in essence meant, “Let me wait until I receive my inheritance,” then I will follow you. Knowing this, cast a completely different light on the conversation; the young man was not asking Jesus for permission to bury his recently deceased father, instead he was deferring his obedience to Christ until it was convenient and economically feasible for him. The young man was depending on his earthly father to provide the necessary security, in the form of his inheritance, that he needed in order to follow Jesus.
Jesus’ response to this man, while on the surface startling, is exactly what he needed to hear. The man was deferring his obedience to Christ based on a lack of faith and security. He was trusting in his inheritance for security rather than Christ. He was distracted with the concerns of family, inheritance and security, and not wholehearted in his commitment to follow Christ. Like so many, this man’s first love was his relationships with family and friends not Jesus. Jesus consistently tells us that we must not allow any other relationship to take priority over our love for Him. Jesus is not denying the importance of family and relationship but rather is questioning the priority of them in relation to himself.
Finally, we meet the divided disciple. This final disciple is interested in following Jesus if it is permitted. He does not propose to go back to his family for a farewell party, rather he wants to return for their blessing on what he had decided to do. If the family do not bless him in his intent to follow Jesus, then he will be continually looking over his shoulder. Jesus uses the illustration about ploughing to strike home his point about commitment.
Everyone in Jesus’ audience on that day would have immediately understood the point of the illustration, that if a ploughman looked back it would affect his ability to plough properly. In fact, looking back from the plough would invariably cause him to plough a crooked row and possibly damage the crops he had planted. This illustrates too what happens when we focus on anything other than our Saviour. We invariably plough a crooked row and damage the crop. In the case of a disciple of Christ, the crop is the hearts and souls of human beings and the damage could be eternal. Jesus needs a determined hand on the plough. He needs someone who is undivided in their commitment and resolve.
In this short passage Jesus is challenging our mindsets in being disciples. Following Christ is an act of the will, it is not based on feelings. As a spiritual teacher called Assagioli said:
“You must not follow your feelings. Your feelings must follow you.” The desirous disciple, the distracted disciple and the divided disciple are following their feelings, but the way of discipleship is an act of the will. It is a commitment made and followed through. It is obedience to a call given. Only an act of the will and a strong commitment will help you stay the course of discipleship.
The feelings follow the commitment. We see this in the true story of Viktor Frankl, who spent three years in Auschwitz and Dachau. He was a doctor tending the sick and dying camp inmates. Near the end of the war, he and his companion devised a way of escaping. Viktor began to collect his possessions… a food bowl, a pair of torn mittens, notes for a book he hoped to write. Then he took a last look at his patients where they lay on planks of rotten wood on either side of a hut. He came to a man who was very close to death. Viktor did his best to hide from him that he was escaping, but the man was not fooled and said in a tired sad voice: “So you too are getting out.” Frankl felt that he was betraying this man, and so he suddenly decided to take his fate into his own hands. He told his friend to leave without him. He was staying with his patients. At once the unhappy feeling of betrayal left him, and although he had no idea of what the days ahead would hold, he gained an inner peace he had never experienced before. Commitment followed by feelings. He survived the camps.
Jesus invites us all to commit to him, to sift through our priorities and then allow our feelings to follow, and thereby embark on an exciting albeit at times challenging but fulfilling discipleship. 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.
Lord, you set high standards for those who would follow you.
Inspire in your church the devotion
and dedication required
to be counted as your people.
Take our lives and let them be
consecrated Lord to thee.
Give thanks to the Lord
Call upon his name.
Lord, you set your face towards Jerusalem
causing offence in some.
Take away all prejudice and foolish pride.
Give to leaders an openness
and generosity of heart
to work with everyone of goodwill.
Give thanks to the Lord
Call upon his name
Lord your spirit refreshes and enlivens our senses.
Keep us wholesome in our desires
and faithful to your purposes.
Fill us with your gracious presence
and loving kindness in all things.
Give thanks to the Lord
Call upon his name
Lord in your graciousness
be with those who are in war torn countries.
Enable the negotiators to bring about peace,
reconciliation, and healing.
Be with those whose lives are devastated in Ukraine,
may stability and security be restored
and lives and communities built up again.
Give thanks to the Lord
Call upon his name
Lord, you know our fears and anxieties.
Be with all who care for loved ones or friends;
for those with dementia and reduced autonomy.
Be with those who need your healing touch
at this time, hear the cry of all in distress.
and give them your strength and peace.
Give thanks to the Lord
Call upon his name
Lord in your mercy,
you give new life to those who trust in you.
Deal tenderly with those who mourn.
When our time on earth is over,
gather us with your saints
to be with you forever.
Give thanks to the Lord
Call upon his name
Lord, thank you that you journey
with us in life,
and whatever we encounter, you are with us,
supporting, helping and strengthening.
Be with us as we enter this week
and guide us with wisdom and grace.
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.