Morning Worship for Fourth Sunday after Trinity

5th July 2020

A video of this service (30 mins) is available.

O Lord, open our lips and our mouth shall proclaim your praise. Praise the Lord. The Lord’s name be praised.

Confession

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith, firmly resolved to keep God’s commandments and to live in love and peace with all. Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we have sinned against you and against our neighbour in thought and word and deed, through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault. We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for us, forgive us all that is past and grant that we may serve you in newness of life to the glory of your name. Amen. May God, who loved the world so much that he sent his Son to be our Saviour, forgive us our sins and make us holy to serve him in the world, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect

Gracious Father, by the obedience of Jesus you brought salvation to our wayward world: draw us into harmony with your will, that we may find all things restored in him, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Old Testament Reading:
Psalm 145: 8-15

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All your works praise you, LORD; your faithful people extol you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendour of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. The LORD upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.

New Testament Reading:
Acts 28: 1-16
Gospel Reading:
Matthew 11: 16-19, 25-30

Reflection by the Revd Ola Franklin

Now that lockdown rules have eased, we’ll be allowed to go away on holiday. If you’ve ever seen the TV programme called Holidays from Hell, you’ll be aware of all the things which could go wrong during a journey to your dream destination: losing your luggage; having your holiday ruined by poor weather; being delayed by transport problems; a diversion to a different destination; or arriving to find that they haven’t yet finished building your hotel!

Apart from that last problem, all those things happened to Paul on his journey to Rome, as we heard in our Bible reading – although he was going off to a trial rather than a pleasure trip. He was travelling with his friend Luke, who wrote the book of Acts. Imagine the postcard Luke might have written:

“Surprise! Have been diverted to Malta following a shipwreck. Lost our luggage. Weather cold and wet; hotel unavailable. Paul got bitten by a snake but is okay. Wish you were here.”

Paul had waited for a long time for the chance to go to Rome. He’d written a letter to the Christians in Rome some 10 years earlier, and he told them he wanted to visit. Now, at last, he could meet some of the people he’d written to.

Remember right back in the Acts chapter 2, there were Jews from Rome who visited Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to Jesus' disciples, and many people became believers. Some of them would have taken the good news about Jesus back to Rome. Paul had probably expected to travel to Rome to teach, encourage and strengthen the young church – but as things turned out, he was making the journey as a prisoner to face the charges made against him by the Jews in Jerusalem. He knew these folk were plotting to kill him. So he used his Roman citizenship to appeal to Caesar. So off he was going to Rome.

During his long journey, Paul didn’t let his own difficult situation prevent him from helping others; when he landed on Malta, he’d probably lost his possessions in the shipwreck; and I don’t expect Malta had a hotel which could accommodate 276 guests at short notice! While you and I would be queuing up at the first century version of the Tourist Information Office, Paul made use of the power of prayer, and was exercising his healing ministry among the people of Malta. There he was, a shipwrecked prisoner, who could have spent the time complaining and feeling sorry for himself. Instead, he used the gift God gave him in order to serve, even in that uncomfortable situation.

We sometimes wrestle with God when things aren’t going our way or because we can’t see the point of what’s happening or how God wants to use the experience we’re going through. But when we move our attention away from our own problems, God can use us to minister to others.

Maybe we’re aware of a particular plan that God has for us; perhaps he has given us a specific promise. Often we have to wait a long time for that promise to be fulfilled, but we can hang on to our knowledge that God is always faithful, and always keeps his promises. If he has called us to do something, we may still have many difficult experiences to go through on the way. But God always provides us with the opportunity to do the work he has called us to do – but not necessarily making things easy for us; not doing things the way we may want or expect; but always working with his own timing, rather than ours.

Often, we can find that God doesn’t deliver us out of the storm, but he does deliver us through the storm. It’s often through the storm that God works things out for good and we grow to understand his purpose and plan long after the situation.

The reality is that sometimes there will be scars, bad memories, losses or pain. It does, however, mean that we will be stronger in the end if we place our faith in God to help us make it to the other side of the storm.

Creed

We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and earth is named. We believe in God the Son, who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with his love. We believe in God the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power from on high. We believe in One God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

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. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

Blessing

The goodness of the Creator, the grace of the Saviour, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, be upon and within us; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always. Amen. Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God. Amen.