The Celebration of the Gospel
July 16, 2017 —6th Sunday after Pentecost
A sower went out to sow…
— Matthew 13.3, 8
________We Gather as the Body of Christ______
PRELUDE All Things Bright And Beautiful Traditional English Tune, arr: Robert F. Swift
[As we listen to the music we quiet our minds and bodies,
listen for our hearts’ deepest desires,
and become present to the Holy One who is lovingly present for us.]
* CALL TO WORSHIP
Leader: God of truth, sow the seed of your Word in our hearts.
All: We receive your grace with glad and generous hearts.
Loving Christ, sow the seeds of healing and growth in our bodies and souls.
We receive your grace with glad and generous hearts.
Holy Spirit, sow the seeds of your love in our lives.
We receive your grace with glad and generous hearts. Alleluia!
* SONG As the Deer Black hymnal # 2025
____________ We Attend to the Word__________
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Pastor: The grace of God is with you.
Congregation: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
God of love, help us to see ourselves with the eyes of love,
to see all that is in us that is loving,
and all that is not loving.
By the grace you show us in Christ,
forgive us, heal us, and perfect your love in us.
PRAYER WITH SCRIPTURE … SILENT PRAYER … THE WORD OF GRACE
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
God of truth, you sow the seed of your Word among us. Soften the soil of our hearts to receive your grace, that it may flourish in us. Amen.
OLD TESTAMENT Genesis 8.1-15
[Although God has promised an heir to Abraham and Sarah, they are old and without any children. Three visitors tell them that they will have a son—news so preposterous that Sarah laughs.]
God appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “If I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.”
So Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly a bushel of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.
They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; she had passed her fertile age. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” God said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too wonderful for God? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. God said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.”
* PSALTER Psalm 25.1-10
[A prayer for God’s support, guidance, forgiveness and love.]
To you, O Holy One, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be put to shame;
do not let my enemies exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Make me to know your ways, O God;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long.
Be mindful of your mercy, O God, and of your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
but remember me according to your steadfast love,
for your goodness’ sake, O God!
Good and upright re you, Holy One;
therefore you instruct sinners in the way.
You lead the humble in what is right,
and teach the humble your way.
All your paths are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep your covenant and decrees.
NEW TESTAMENT Romans 8.1-11
[Paul contrasts life “in the flesh,” or controlled by our self-centered anxieties and desires, with life in the Spirit—led by God. Our attempts to be good people, to live “by the law,” can’t actually heal our relationship with God or others, but God’s grace does. The Spirit, that raised Jesus from death, raises us from our sin into a life guided by God.]
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the controlling power of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the controlling power of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, in the hands of our weak flesh, could not do: by sending the Only Begotten in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, God condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who see themselves as isolated individuals set their minds on self-centered anxieties, but those who know they are part of God’s Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
To set the mind on the isolated self is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the individual self is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s will—indeed it cannot; and those who are absorbed in self cannot please God. But you are not an isolated individual; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, though your isolated body is dead, being disconnected from God, the Spirit is life because of the gift of God’s presence. If the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, then the One who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through God’s Spirit that dwells in you.
GOSPEL Matthew 13.1-9
[Jesus tells a parable about a sower. After much loss and seemingly hopeless effort, the seed bears fruit with abundant grace.]
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen.
SONG Love-Sowing God Steve G-H
Love-sowing God, sow love in me,
your seeds of grace abundantly.
My soul be soil where love may root
and grow and bear your precious fruit.
Where habit’s feet and wheels have tracked,
my anxious work the soil has packed,
soften my soul with bliss or pain,
so love may enter in again.
My angry thorns, my selfish weeds,
God, clear away, and sow your seeds.
Despite the hungry, wanting bird,
Love, plant in me your living Word.
Love-sowing God, your labors done,
help me to trust the rain and sun,
receive your grace and faithfully
bear forth your love that grows in me.
* AFFIRMATION OF FAITH
A Statement of Faith of the United Church of Canada Blue hymnal # 883
* SONG Alleluia
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
THE WORD IN SONG Great Is Thy Faithfulness
J and Connie Woolcock, handbells
THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
[Anyone who wishes may share a prayer concern at the microphone.]
THE PRAYER OF JESUS
SHARING THE PEACE OF CHRIST
_______We Are Sent in Ministry to the World____
OFFERING OUR GIFTS Lord, Speak To Me Tune: CANONBURY, arr: Lani Smith
* OFFERING SONG Holy Spirit, Truth Divine Blue hymnal #465
Gracious God, we give you our lives, symbolized in these gifts. Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will. May the seeds of grace you have planted in our hearts bear fruit in love and faith and service, for the sake of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.
THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH IN THE WORLD
* SONG May You Run and Not Be Weary Black hymnal #2281
* THE BLESSING AND SENDING FORTH
RESPONSE We stand and sing to our neighbors:
May the grace and peace of Christ be with you my friends.
Go and share the love of God, love that never ends.
Since Jesus Came Into My Heart C. H. Gabriel, arr: Mark Hayes
[During the postlude there are people ready to pray with you at the candles in the corners.]
After worship we invite you to join us in the Sanctuary to share your questions and reflections on the worship service, the sermon or scriptures, or other matters on your heart.