Worship on 7th August 2022

Lectionary readings:
Genesis 15.1-6;
Psalm 33.12-22;
Hebrews 11.1-3,8-16; 
Luke 12.32-40


A gathering prayer

God of all,  thank you for being here with me. Thank you that in your presence
I find heavenly riches beyond any earthy treasure. As I come to worship, help me to seek and find the treasure of your kingdom, so I can live my earthly life holding treasure that will transform me – right here and right now.
Amen

A prayer of approach

I put my hope in the Lord; the Lord is my protector and my help, the root of my gladness and in the Lord I trust.
May your constant love be with me, Lord,
as I put my hope in you.
Amen.

Hymn: StF 66

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning,
New every morning,
Great is thy faithfulness,
O Lord, Great is thy faithfulness.

Edith McNeil

A prayer of adoration

Right here, right now, I worship you,
God of wealth and treasure, and I adore you. I share in the riches of your glory;
to feel and see and hear and know
that you are here. You are not seated high on some heavenly throne. You are not ensconced in castle or palace. You are not protected by guards and walls.
You, Lord God, are here – alive, living and being among us. I worship and adore you, here and now, no appointment needed. Amen.

Bible reading: Luke 12.32-40

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

About this Bible passage:

We are well into a long section of dialogue, from 12.1 to 13.21. Jesus is speaking and responding to questions from those who are already followers, those who oppose him, and who are trying to make up their minds. Having urged his hearers to seek God’s kingdom (v.31), he tells his disciples not to be afraid because God will give them the kingdom, drawing them into a supportive band of brothers and sisters in pursuit of the treasure God holds before them. As in the Hebrews passage, this treasure is both here now and off in the distance, but it is theirs because they have set their hearts on it.

But although the kingdom is a gift, it does not come to the passive. As we seek God’s kingdom rather than our own material well-being (cf vv.13-21), we need to be alert to what God is doing (vv.35-48).

These verses have the twin focus of Jesus’ first and second coming – and we need to keep this in mind if we’re to understand. Verse 35 contains an echo of the Passover – eating with loins girded with no trace of yeast in the house – and hence recalls Jesus’ warning to his followers to avoid the Pharisees’ yeast (12.1b). If we are going to lay hold of our treasure, we must lay down all the other things we cling to for security.

A time-honoured classroom activity is to invite children to make a treasure map. You may well have done this yourself. Such a map almost always consists of a wobbly outline denoting the shape of a desert island, and is probably surrounded by shark-infested waters. The island will have mountainous areas, thick forests and beaches strewn with palm trees. But somewhere in this complex geography will be a small ‘X’. And we all know what the ‘X’ means. It marks the spot where the treasure is buried. Find the place marked, get digging and, if you are lucky, you will uncover a chest of untold riches.  

The idea of buried treasure has captured imaginations for many years. One of the most famous stories must be Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. In this story, young Jim Hawkins finds a map in a dead man’s chest and takes a role as a ship’s cabin boy in a thrilling search for the pirate gold hiding under the ‘X’ on his map. Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ also have an encounter with a cargo of gold ingots. In this tale, the intrepid gang deal with ruined castles, hidden dungeons, shipwrecks and storms as they hunt for the treasure stashed on Kirrin Island. Even very contemporary stories use the treasure hunt as a major plot device. Amy, in Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl, sets up little treasure hunts for her husband on their anniversary, a seemingly romantic tradition that turns very sinister when Amy disappears and she becomes the treasure he is hunting for. On a lighter note, the film Paddington 2 makes use of a hunt for treasure that takes the bear, his family and his nemesis, Phoenix Buchanan, on a search of London looking for a lost fortune.   

If something is highly prized, the human impulse is to work very hard to find it. Think about the times when you have lost something precious. For those items there is no handy treasure map with an ‘X’ to tell you where you left it but, when it’s valuable or important to you, you will search as hard as possible to try and find it.  

In other words, whatever – or perhaps whoever – we value has high priority in our life. Whatever we deem to be our treasure naturally occupies our thoughts, fills our senses and often guides our behaviour and how we choose to spend our time. The challenge embedded in the Gospel reading is for us to see that the most precious treasure of all, the valuables marked by ‘X’ in the universal map of life, are the riches we gain from doing the work of God’s kingdom. Real treasure is found when we draw close to Jesus, and this treasure has a beauty and value that eclipses anything else. And the exciting news is that this treasure is not buried or hidden, it’s available right here, right now. The treasure is not in a hidden box but in a relationship with Jesus – and everyone is invited to share it. 


Hymn: StF 254

Seek ye first the kingdom of God
And His righteousness,
And all these things shall be added unto you,  
Allelu, Alleluia!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Allelu, Alleluia!

Ask and it shall be given unto you,
Seek and ye shall find.
Knock and the door shall be opened unto you,
Allelu, Alleluia!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Allelu, Alleluia!

Man shall not live by bread alone,
But by every word
That proceeds from the mouth of God,
Allelu, Alleluia!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Allelu, Alleluia!

Karen Lafferty.

A prayer of confession and an assurance of forgiveness

We strive in life for things to make us comfortable, for things that give us pleasure. We save in life, if we are able, for rainy days and stormy times. We work to make life better, always hoping it will make us happier. We burden ourselves with so much so-called ‘treasure’ that we cannot often see the wood for the trees.
We work to give enjoyment, but we struggle along the way. Forgive me, Lord, and help me in a moment of reflection
to see the damage that my ‘treasures’ can cause if they become the centre of my living. Forgive me in my busy-ness to store up treasure here on earth, if I lose sight of the treasure that is you in the here and now. Forgive me if in my busy-ness I fail to share your treasure
with family, friend, foe and neighbour.

God, in his love for us, offers us, each of us, every one of us, forgiveness for our sins, things done and undone, things spoken and unspoken. God in his love for us offers assurance that our sins –
yes, even mine – are forgiven.
So, let me go this day sharing the treasure that is God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Prayers

of Intercession

I pray…

for those living on the edge, in fear of the future: bless them with a deepening sense of hope and trust in you;

for those caught up in the ways of the world, relying on worldly treasures: give them a blessing of release and joy in you;

for those battling with ill health: give them the blessing of strengthening hope and healing;

for all who have the responsibility of leading your flock: give them your blessing of wisdom and strength.

Lord, you watch and protect.
Strengthen all who are in need
with an unshakeable trust in you;
give them a glimpse of the treasures
that are theirs when they put their hope in you.
Amen.

A prayer of praise and thanksgiving

My heart overflows with praise and thanksgiving as I realise that God is not ‘out there’, distant and seated high above us, but is here with me in this moment, not distant but close. My heart overflows as God’s being infuses mine, as God’s love warms me, shelters and comforts me, as God’s Spirt gives me strength and hope, passion and purpose. My heart overflows as I know I need not fear God,
that God’s treasure is closer than I can feel and deeper than I can know,
wider than I can see and more real than I can imagine. My heart overflows to know that the place I have searched for is this place, and that the time I have been searching for is here and now.
My heart overflows with praise and thanksgiving.
Amen.

Hymn: StF 692

Your hand, O God, has guided
Your flock, from age to age;
The wondrous, tale is written
Full clear, on every page;
Our forebears owned your goodness,
And we their deeds record;
And both of this bear witness:
One Church, one faith, one Lord.                        

Your heralds brought glad tidings
To greatest, as to least;
They summoned all to hasten
And share the great King’s feast;
Their gospel of redemption,
Sin pardoned, right restored,
Was all in this enfolded:
One Church, one faith, one Lord.  

Your mercy will not fail us,
Nor leave your work undone;
With your right hand to help us,
The victory shall be won;
And then, by all creation,
Your name shall be adored,
And this shall be our anthem:
One Church, one faith, one Lord.  

         E H Plumptre

A sending out prayer

Lord, be with me. Help me to seek your treasure. Help me to look for all you’re doing right now. Help me – by my example as much as by my words – to share your treasure and your life-giving story with the people I meet this week.
Amen.