Sunday 12th July
Slide: Rev David Parry
David’s intro video
Croeso yn ôl i’r Gwasanaeth Bro Celynnin, welcome back to this Bro Celynnin Service.
Our opening song today is an invitation to worship.
Opening hymn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeJ6U8ZP9NQ
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Slide: The Parable of the Sower from Matthew 13
Video: Bible Reading
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!’
When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.’
This is the Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you, O Christ.
Slide: Rev Tom Saunders
Video: Tom’s talk
On my regular daily walk along the lanes here in the Conwy Valley, I go past a field that used to be a typical tatty sheep-field.
A couple of years ago, the farmer tidied it up, removed a lot of rocks and trees and undergrowth, put in a shiny new double gate – wide enough to take a combine harvester – and now he plants wheat in the field.
Image of green field
As the days of lockdown went by this year, I saw the field going from plain brown earth, to a few thin shoots, to tall blades of green, and now the ears of grain are there, about to start ripening. Here, at least, the world continued as it should and “some seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
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Jesus explains this parable of the sower very carefully. The seed that is sown is like the word of God, and the different kinds of people who hear the word are like the different kinds of ground that receive the seed. Will the word take root in us, will God’s message bear fruit? It depends on us as much as it depends on God. God doesn’t force us to hear Him or to respond to Him, although, of course, He rejoices when we do.
It seems to me that the sower of the seeds in the parable is nowhere near as disciplined as the farmers are here in North Wales. In the parable the sower sows his seeds here, there and everywhere: as much seed falls on the path and on the rocky ground and in among the thorns as falls on the good soil. Here, I’d be surprised if more than one seed in a hundred lands anywhere that isn’t exactly where the farmer wants it to be: not much seed gets dropped on the farm-track, or among the rocks or into the brambles at the edge of the field.
But that’s the point: God’s word isn’t a limited resource like sacks of real seeds. It isn’t meant to be dealt out carefully or rationed in any way. The good news is for everyone, not just for the few who we think might make best use of it.
Image of wheat field
God wants to see the word of His Kingdom scattered widely, abundantly, even recklessly, just like the crazy sower who flings his seed on the path and into the rocks and among the thorns. And, anyway, aren’t we all a bit of a mixture of the rocks, the thorns and the good soil? Don’t we sometimes get God’s word, and other times find that we’ve let it wash over us and leave us unmoved?
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This week, for the first time in months, I went more than five miles from home. And it was a stranger, more daunting experience than I had expected. The world of July 2020 is not the same as the world of March 2020, and I am not the same as I was either… my fears and my hopes and my concerns have shifted in ways that I don’t yet fully understand.
I’m not too sure whether the post-lockdown me is like the spruced-up field that the farmer cleared of rocks and undergrowth, or whether I’m more like a field that has been neglected for months, leaving me full of weeds and brambles and newly-emerged stones. Either way, it’s time now for me to receive the word of God, to let His word settle in among all those fears, hopes and concerns, just as the seed sown in the parable is allowed to rest on the path, on the rocks and in the thorns.
And somewhere in the field that is my inner life, I know that God has been sowing His word in a spot that will yield a hundred-fold when the time comes.
Our prayer this morning has been inspired by Bishop John Pritchard’s wonderful Intercessions Resources Book.
As in our Bible passage for today, Jesus uses the image of a small seed several times to illustrate the potential of the growth of faith.
As we look around us today, at our gardens and countryside – full of flowers and developing fruitfulness we use this image of a garden – of planting seeds – seeds of prayer in God’s garden of love …
So take your first seeds and plant – seeds of prayer for your family and friends … those we love and care about, so deeply. You know their needs today … you know your hopes for them … Plant those seeds for them now and trust that God will protect and sustain and bring about growth …
Now take some seeds of prayer for people you know less well – perhaps those you work with or see daily in your neighbourhood when they are working – or just out walking – or someone you know about who is alone at the moment – Plant seeds of prayer now … for those, you don’t usually pray for, but whom God has brought to your mind now …
Take some seeds of prayer now for people in the public eye – for good or ill. People in the news – those working in authority and leadership roles, political leaders, leaders of the Health Service and Social Care Sector and Church leaders – all under such constant pressure during this Covid Crisis. Who might be in particular need of support and wisdom at present? Plant seeds of prayer for some of these people now …
Further away in the garden of God’s love, seeds of prayer are needed for places and nations in turmoil and collapse from the ravages of Covid…. War…. Poverty…. disaster ….. famine ….or bad government….. Take these seeds of prayer and plant them well…. for this is where seeds get trampled on and need careful nurture for fragile growth, to sustain and heal God’s world…….
You have one seed left … a special small place of soil to plant a seed of prayer for yourself….. What do you most need?… Where do you feel vulnerable? ….. Plant that seed gently now…..
Dear Father God, We offer you our seeds of prayer …
what we have prayed for, answer …
what we should have prayed for, remember …
what we regret, forgive …
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And what we are, bless.
Video: outro David
I’m so glad you could be part of this Service. We’re going to end with a setting of the priestly blessing from Numbers chapter 6 in the Old Testament. But before that, a message from Zambia.
as most of you may have heard, me and Gwen got married on 5th July via a Zoom blessing! It was a very good and joyous event and we’d like to thank each and every one of you that have been praying for us.
Over the past few months, one of the Bible passages that has come to mean quite a lot to us is Ecclesiastes 3, which talks about God’s timing and the fact we can’t see the full span of God’s plan when we’re right in the middle of it.
We would have really loved to have celebrated with you in person in Conwy, and we also had quite a large event planned for Zambia which we also had to cancel.
Wedding 1 image
But actually it was really beautiful getting married over Zoom, and it actually allowed us to have all of our extended family on both sides and a lot of our friends all across the world gathered together in one place online which would have never been possible in person.
But we do look forward to when we can travel and when we can come and see you in person once more.
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Yes, so from the Muzunis, it’s ‘bye for now’!
Video: final song ‘May the Lord bless you’
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Back to video – end (include credits)
Slide: Come and Let Us Worship God by John Bell
from Take This Moment
Choir The Cathedral Singers
Final slide: Church in Wales, caruconwy.com website and logo