A call to worship:
We look for God in the dramatic.
We discover God in the ordinary.
Invited by God to slow down, we freshly open our eyes to slowly see God’s life breaking into our awareness, all around.
A gathering prayer:
Loving God, thank you for the wonder of our interconnected universe, sustained and held in being by your love. Tiny seeds nurtured by earth, that grow into great scrubs, sheltering creatures. Barely visible yeast cultures leavening flour for bread. Treasures that make life precious and joyful. Wisdom handed down to us, freshly understood. Your reign breaks around us in so many ways; help us to see and rejoice.
StF 254 Seek ye first the Kingdom of God
Seek ye first the Kingdom of God
And His righteousness,
And all these things
Shall be added unto you,
Man shall not live by bread alone,
But by every word
That proceeds from the mouth of God
Ask, and it shall be given unto you.
Seek and ye shall find.
Knock and it shall be opened unto you
1 Kings 3:5-12
6 Solomon answered, ‘You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
7 ‘Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?’
10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, ‘Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.
129 Your statutes are wonderful;
therefore I obey them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.
132 Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
133 Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.
134 Redeem me from human oppression,
that I may obey your precepts.
135 Make your face shine on your servant
and teach me your decrees.
136 Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
for your law is not obeyed.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
More than conquerors
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
‘For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
The parables of the mustard seed and the yeast
31 He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.’
33 He told them still another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about thirty kilograms of flour until it worked all through the dough.’
The parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl
44 ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
The parable of the net
47 ‘Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51 ‘Have you understood all these things?’ Jesus asked.
‘Yes,’ they replied.
52 He said to them, ‘Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.’
Prayer of confession
Lord, we confess that the concerns of the world weigh us down. We worry about our needs, our wants, how others perceive us.
We are so overwhelmed that we fail to riddle the gold from life’s dross. We turn to you, seeking the assurance that your kingdom is with us and among us; help us to discern where it lies, so that we may turn our backs on all else.
Grant us the patience to seek you and your ways with the forbearance you show as you wait for us.
Assurance of forgiveness
Almighty God, although we take forever, you have forever – you are the God of Eternity.
We are slow to seek you, slow to learn, slow to grow in faith; but when we are faltering, you wait sure and steady to forgive us; when we are lacking in trust, you forgive us and persist in working out your ways despite us. Thank you, O God of forgiveness and forbearance.
Prayers of thanksgiving
God, we thank you for teaching us the things that matter, the things of true value. We praise you that the treasures of your kingdom are hidden beneath the mundanity, and sometimes the drama, of everyday life; and that they are often there in small ways that, if nurtured, grow in abundance. Thank you for your pearls of wisdom and your seeds of faith. Let your Kingdom grow among us.
Prayers of intercession
Lord, you took so much care to describe your kingdom in ways everyone could understand, including us.
Your kingdom come, O Lord.
Your will be done.
We pray today that you will pass on to us
that gift of making ourselves accessible.
Keep us from being a stumbling block to those who would seek you;
from using language that puzzles; from actions that confuse; from anything that keeps us apart from your people around us.
Your kingdom come, O Lord.
Your will be done.
The Lord's Prayer
Please use the version that you prefer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
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.
Save us from the time of trial
And deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
Now and for ever.
Time to reflect:
The Kingdom of God is like a Mustard seed, small yet it grows to be a large tree. Jesus chooses to tell a story about the smallest seed, which was sown liberally across the ground, and over time it grows into a tree, the largest in the garden and provides a place for birds to nest.
Jesus skips over the stages of growth because it is not relevant in this parable.
Leon Morris says, ‘it is from Jesus and his little band that the mighty kingdom of heaven would emerge’.
These parables are about waiting, even the birds had to wait for the tree to grow before they could rest in the branches. Jesus teaches that the growth of a seed is a mystery just like the growth of the Kingdom of God. We know that a seed needs soil, water, and sunshine to grow, but the question still is – who makes it grow? More importantly, a seed needs to be planted in the ground because a seed, if left alone on a windowsill will not grow. The seed that Jesus talks about is God’s word being sown in people’s lives, where it will take root and grow. Although for a time the seed seems inactive, we must not be anxious.
This story shows us that the Kingdom of God starts small, just like the mustard seed. Jesus’ disciples did not understand that he was not here to establish an earthly kingdom, God’s kingdom is very different to the way the world works,
as it wants people to have a willingness to serve others. However, even though it starts small, it can grow beyond our expectation.
The Bible tells us, Jesus already began the work of the Kingdom when he was on this earth. At times it is small, so hidden and invisible in places that we are not aware that God is already doing the work. Christians must not lose heart when they feel that God is inactive or absent, when they see so much suffering, evil and the power of darkness taking over this world. God is present and that He will bring justice for each evil perpetrated in His own time. God brings peace and comfort to all who trust in Him.
StF 481 – The Lord’s my shepherd.
The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want;
He makes me lie in pastures green.
He leads me by the still, still waters,
His goodness restores my soul.
And I will trust in You alone,
And I will trust in You alone,
For Your endless mercy follows me,
Your goodness will lead me home.
He guides my ways in righteousness,
And He anoints my head with oil,
And my cup, it overflows with joy,
I feast on His pure delights.
And though I walk the darkest path,
I will not fear the evil one,
For You are with me, and Your rod and staff
Are the comfort I need to know.
A sending out prayer:
Loving God, thank you for your reign breaking in, all around, for those with eyes to see.
May the light of your love be focused within us.
May we create space in our hearts to treasure it.
And may we be of service to your love, now and always.