Home Worship 15th August

Home Worship Sunday 15th August 2021

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

To begin, read aloud:    May the mind of Christ my Saviour
live in me from day to day,
by his love and power controlling
all I do or say.

Hymn: 74

1      For the music of creation,
        for the song your Spirit sings,
        for your sound’s divine expression,
        burst of joy in living things:
            God, our God, the world’s composer,
            hear us, echoes of your voice —
            music is your art, your glory,
            let the human heart rejoice!

   2    Psalms and symphonies exalt you,
        drum and trumpet, string and reed,
        simple melodies acclaim you,
        tunes that rise from deepest need,
            hymns of longing and belonging,
            carols from a cheerful throat,
            lilt of lullaby and love song
            catching heaven in a note.

   3    All the voices of the ages
        in transcendent chorus meet,
        worship lifting up the senses,
        hands that praise, and dancing feet;
            over discord and division
            music speaks your joy and peace,
            harmony of earth and heaven,
            song of God that cannot cease!

Shirley Erena Murray (b. 1931)
Reproduced from Singing the Faith
Electronic Words Edition, number 74
Words: © 1992, Hope Publishing Company,

Carol Stream, IL 60188, USA. 

All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

Pray:

Praise be to you, O God, source of all being, eternal Word and Holy Spirit, by whom we are made whole and brought to perfection.

Praise be to you, O God, Father of Jesus Christ, by whose wisdom we are created and sustained

Amen

Hymn:

I sing the almighty power of God (StF 107)

Readings:

Psalm 111

Praise for God’s Wonderful Works

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
    in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
    studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honour and majesty is his work,
    and his righteousness endures for ever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
    the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
    he is ever mindful of his covenant.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
    in giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
    all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established for ever and ever,
    to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people;
    he has commanded his covenant for ever.
    Holy and awesome is his name.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all those who practise it[a] have a good understanding.
    His praise endures for ever.

Footnote

Psalm 111:10 Gk Syr: Heb them

John 6: 51-58

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ 53 So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’

Reflection on these readings:

The common element is the dependence, the trust for God.

They contrast sharply in how this trust is lived out.

In pre-Christian times it was that the forms of religion be kept – the Temple was where God resided and from it exercised his divine power, also keeping the city and people safe from the surrounding nations.

This meant that the state religion was subverted by two trends – firstly the royal marriages, which brought in the consort’s religion and hence the people’s religion was could not rely on a seamless faithfulness to God in His Temple.

This Psalm shows how the courtiers and common folk were encouraged to rejoice when the Temple was the scene of enactments where God and People, as represented by the king, were together, where the Covenant was celebrated.

The second, more prevalent subversion, was the widespread practice of sacrificing at altars on the ‘high places’: eventually there were more places of apostasy and false gods than altars for sacrifices to Yahweh.

The prophets who spoke against these hypocrisies were ignored, or violently rejected, and we have Samaritan and Judean powers persecuting them and equally, plotting to gain even more land and money at the people’s expense – a complete perversion of the original Covenant between the nation and God.

This happened twice – firstly the in conquests of the Assyrians and Persians, with the long Exile and restoration of a ‘purified’ Jerusalem:

And again after the Maccabean revolution, where the desperation of the struggle left the people broken and helpless against revisions to the religion.

A poor situation – made worse by Roman interference in the region.

Uneducated and exploited the people could only hope that Yahweh would send the Messiah, the leader who would drive out all foreign influences and restore the Davidic monarchy.

This was the background of Jesus’ time – Herod spent years and huge amounts of treasure rebuilding the Temple, and the politics of the region were roiled by different the parties: Sadducees, Pharisees and Essenes.

Isn’t our own polity riven by greed, ambition, differing interpretations as to the fruitfulness of resources and rewards for work?

Let us read the Gospel reading set for this morning:

John 6: 51-58

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ 53 So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’

Reflection 2:

This passage is at the end of the Gospel’s second ‘Teaching Passage’ – Jesus has fed the 5,000 and then withdrawn from the crowd who wanted to make him king ‘by force’ (verse 15): the next day some of the crowd catch up with him, and so the discussion about what material benefit Jesus can offer ensues: he challenges them to ignore the food of the day before and accept his ‘bread of heaven’. He sums up his position with the verses set by the lectionary: “I am the bread of life”.

It should be noted that this is the first of Jesus’ seven “I am” statements in this Gospel[1]. John has given seven because that is an important point in counting – seven completes any list as the number of fulness, of completion, as one higher than the earthly, incomplete preceding count.

For us, today, we struggle quite as hard as Jesus’ hearers did; how does one get a grip on the concept: the struggle is made sharper because of the different door by which we enter the Spiritual portion of human life. Since the Enlightenment, the ruling culture has been materially-based. John’s Gospel presents it as a sorting mechanism, more rigorous than the parables, and says that many dropped out from his followers.

With the benefit of all the years between then and now, we can remind ourselves that Jesus was limning out his role in the present, material world while also describing his crucial role in God’s kingdom – which co-exists with the spiritual as well as the material.

Hymn

Be known to us in breaking bread (StF 573)

Pray:

Lord, Father, we rejoice in the ability to pray and invoke spiritual power.
In these moments, now, we ask that your love will reach out to our neighbours, those in need,
those fearful of the future,
those grieving
and those who are in need of hope.
We pray that we might share our resources,
our resourcefulness’s and, indeed ourselves
to the glory of your kingdom.
Amen

Hymn

Through all the changing scenes of life (StF 638)

Blessing:         

Circle this place by day and by night,
Keep from it all that harms,
Bring to it all that is good.
May this place be fragrant with your presence:
Your Peace be always here in those who dwell here.
Amen

Brigid’s Blessing


[1] there are seven: Jesus is: the Bread, the Light, the Gate, the Good Shepherd, the Resurrection, the Way and the Truth, and the Vine. All are metaphorical descriptions of his role in the here and now and in God’s kingdom.