Sitting in different chairs, joining in at different times throughout the day, God’s people still gather for worship on this, the Lord’s day. Welcome, to Sunday worship.
Call to Worship, parts in bold to say aloud:
gather us together.
Together, at home, we gather as one,
though physically apart.
God be with us in our houses and homes,
just as you are with us
in our churches and cathedrals.
Come. Let us worship
as God’s scattered community.
As the farmer scatters the seed
may the fruits of the Spirit
be plentiful among us,
wherever we may be.
HYMN – Come ye Thankful People Come
God, we come today:
carrying a heavy bag of labels
that other people have put on us,
and that we have taken upon ourselves.
One by one, we lay them down,
or throw them as far into the distance
as they will go.
‘She’s the clever one’.
‘He’s the shy one’.
‘What a good boy!’
‘You’re just trouble!’
Too thin; too fat; too lazy;
too stupid; too clever for your own good.
Living God, we stand before you,
freed from all that clutter,
allowing you to see us as we are,
and to draw out of us
all that we may yet become.
We need only one label:
we are your own beloved children.
Thanks be to God!
Reading: Matthew 13:24-30,36-43 read by Alan Marshall
HYMN – Not Today
Sunday School Activities for all Ages
You will need: prepare a simple quiz with a variety of pictures of flowers and weeds.
Let everyone look at each of the pictures you show them and then vote on whether they think the plant is a prized flower or a weed. If there is disagreement about which is which, that is okay, try not to be too prescriptive. The reality of life is that often these kinds of labels are unhelpful.
You will need: paper cups, felt-tip pens, stickers, compost, cress seeds, and plastic spoons.
Give each person a paper cup with their name written on the bottom. Ask them to draw a face on one side of the paper cup, using felt-tip pens and to decorate the other side of the paper cup with stickers. Ask the children to scoop some compost into the paper cup using spoons and to fill to about 2 cm from the rim. Ask the children to dampen the compost a little and to scatter cress seeds over the soil, pressing in gently. Ask the children add a little drop of water each day until cress ‘hair’ grows.
Talk about things that grow such as flowers, plants, trees, animals, and people. Talk about how God’s love grows and the ways we can help that to happen.
HYMN – For the Fruits of all Creation
Prayers for Others and Ourselves
Living God, we give thanks for all the good things,
that we have seen grow in the course of our lives,
sometimes in the most unpromising of soil;
for difficult times which have helped us
to understand the difficulties that other people face;
for painful losses which have helped us
to value people and things that do not last for ever;
for hard questions that have led us more deeply
Into the mystery of our faith.
We give thanks for farmers and fishing crews;
for all who grow food, and catch it,
prepare it, transport it, market and sell it,
so that we can enjoy an abundance,
that we too easily take for granted.
We pray for those whose livelihoods are at risk,
and whose children this week may not be fed.
May we emerge from this time of hardship
with a new appreciation of all that we have
and a new determination to make this world
a fairer place for all.
We give thanks for those who sow seeds
of faith, of hope and of imagination,
when those gifts are in short supply.
May their work bear a rich harvest.
Gladly, we think of those who cheer us
by singing in the darkness;
those who draw us gently into their laughter,
and help us to smile at ourselves;
those who pray for us,
when we have forgotten how to pray for ourselves.
Gracious God, we pray for the church of Jesus Christ,
charged with representing him in the world,
and with tending the fragile seeds of his kingdom.
Help us not to be distracted by the weeds,
but to focus on the fresh, green shoots of new life.
May we not choke that life with the tangled thorns
of our rules and regulations,
of our doctrines and dogmas and clever future plans.
Keep us faithful in our planting, our watering,
and our waiting for the rich harvest
that is your glory and your gift.
HYMN – Fill Thou my Life
Prayer of Dedication
of all the gifts that you have given,
the greatest and most mysterious is life itself.
Refusing to be tamed or quashed,
it sprouts in the gutters,
pushes up through the pavement cracks,
and bursts out as new green shoots
from seemingly barren stumps.
May we nurture the life that you have given us,
and allow it to flourish in the world.
The Sower, God,
spreads the seed in the fertile soil of his creation.
We are God’s seed.
Let God’s Spirit feed you this week and beyond.
let the earth be full of God’s glory.
let all the earth know his love. Amen.