9th August Pew Sheet - Wyre Forest West Group of Parishes


9th August Pew Sheet


Bible Readings for today – 9th Sunday after Trinity


Genesis 37.1-4,12-28, Psalm 105.1-6,16-22,45b, Romans 10.5-15, Matthew 14.22-33


Collect for this week


Almighty God, who sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your Church: open our hearts to the riches of your grace, that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in love and joy and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Requests for Prayer


Please continue to pray for all those who are ill, especially Annie Round, Paul Mills, Freddie Kemp, Sylvia Jenkins, Susan Godwin, Edna Mills, Mary McGrath, Lucy Fischer, Pearl Green, Margaret Wright, Polly, Maureen Boswell, Sylvia Perkins and Peter Cotterill. We pray for all those killed, injured, and affected by the terrible explosion in Beirut. We also pray for all those suffering with, and affected by, Coronavirus (COVID-19).


Pray for the family and friends of Sheila Lloyd and Jill Cockerton and all those who have recently died and for those who mourn.


Intercessions


As the church of God, let us be still, and pray together.
With confidence and quiet hearts, we approach our heavenly Father with our prayers and thanksgiving, saying:
Lord, our hope is in you; with you there is unfailing love.


We bring you our concerns for the many hurting places in our world, where hunger and starvation dominate, and hatred or conflict deprive people of freedom. We pray for those whose pain is continuous; the homeless, addicts, alcoholics, the isolated, and victims of abuse, those affected by the explosion in Beirut. May the distress in our hearts become practical, courageous, action to share your love with them.
Lord, our hope is in you; with you there is unfailing love.


We bring you our prayers for the Church; for local fellowship and ecumenical groups, for Christian leaders, both local and national, and for young people throughout the world. We pray for all projects and initiatives which bring your people together and demonstrate the good news of Jesus to those who do not know it. May we work with courage, purpose, and vision.
Lord, our hope is in you; with you there is unfailing love.


We bring you our loved ones and friends, and those in our community who are burdened with care or suffering. We pray for everyone who works within our hospitals, for medical and nursing staff who work within our communities, for psychiatrists and counsellors, and all who work to bring relief and healing. May we extend your healing touch to the sick, particularly those suffering from coronavirus.
Lord, our hope is in you; with you there is unfailing love.


We bring you those who have died in the faith of Christ, particularly Jill Cockerton. We pray for loved ones enduring the lonely grief of bereavement and ask you to bless and comfort them. May we be challenged by the example of those who have gone before us.
Lord, our hope is in you; with you there is unfailing love.


Heavenly Father we bring you ourselves, weak and fallible as we are, praying for the courage, strength, and guidance of the Holy Spirit to help us live for you.


Merciful Father, accept these prayers; for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

 

Dear Friends,


From 8th August the wearing of face coverings becomes mandatory (apart from some legal exemptions) in places of worship, such as our churches. This is being done to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. The virus can spread predominantly by droplets and perhaps aerosols (which can linger in the air) from coughs, sneezes and speaking. The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering can reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets and aerosols in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.


Because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer, from coronavirus (COVID-19) they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing.


Please don’t forget to bring a mask with you, if you attend one of our services, but we will have a few for emergencies and some for sale to help raise funds for our churches. You will obviously need to temporarily remove your face covering if you wish to receive Holy Communion, but do please keep it on for the rest of the time that you are inside the church building to help reduce the risk of spreading this terrible disease.


With All my Blessings Rev Sallie

 

And now some thoughts on today’s gospel reading from St Matthew:-


When I was young my family used to go swimming on a Thursday evening to Stechford Baths. We were each slowly introduced to the water whilst holding onto my mother and then as we got more confident my father taught us how to swim. You know, lying on his hand holding us up in the water whilst we slowly learnt to paddle our arms and kick our legs. Then occasionally, he would take away his hand and see if we noticed. Invariably if we did, panic would set in and we would begin to sink. If we didn’t notice and kept paddling and kicking, we stayed afloat. Eventually as our confidence grew, we would shout “take your hand away” safe in the knowledge that if we did get it wrong his hand would miraculously appear and we would be safe. Slowly but surely, we all learned to swim in that tried and tested way based on confidence, ability and trust, overcoming the fear of drowning – well that is we all learned to swim that way apart from my oldest brother Colin.


I remember vividly the very first time that he was taken to the baths, and the look of absolute horror on my mother’s face as he ran straight from the changing rooms through into the pool and leapt straight into the pool. Initially he sank straight to the bottom and then as he popped up out of the water, the squeals, not of fear or panic but of absolute joy! It wasn’t that he had faith or confidence that someone would rescue him or that he thought he would just be able to swim, he literally had no fear of the water at all.


Sometimes we take risks in life like that, completely unaware of the danger. It is only with the benefit of hindsight, or sometimes whilst we are in the middle of doing something, that the risk is apparent. Even though I learnt to swim when I was young, I have never been what you would call confident in the water, I never like to be out of my depth of water. On holiday in the Bahamas one year, I allowed myself to go down in the sea in a single person submarine, only realising when I was there just what this entailed – I was petrified.


Peter as a fisherman I am sure was very aware of the risk that he was taking walking out onto the sea. To begin with he is the picture of total trust that Jesus will somehow protect him. And then he suddenly becomes aware of the storm and like a child learning to swim with my Dad, the fear overwhelms, and he begins to sink. Just as I would call to my Dad to save me Peter calls to Jesus to save him. Immediately he reaches out his hand and catches him. ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ The story is telling us that no matter how dark life might be, and no matter how high the waves might be or how rough the sea, Jesus is still able to reach out to us and is able to lift us out of life's trauma, if only we trust him totally and keep our eyes fixed on him, but I think that it goes further.


Jesus is never swamped by waves, and never in danger of drowning. Even the winds and the waves obey him, so he can bring calmness to any situation. And those who trust in him will never drown either, for if we keep our eyes and our hearts and our minds fixed on him, he enables us to rise above all that life can throw at us. Maybe we too will be astounded by his power and maybe our experience too will lead us to say, "Truly you are the son of God." But, I think that this reading is trying to say something else to us – that, just as Paul did, sometimes we need to take risks.


All of us take risks. We would never have anything if we didn’t. No new relationships would be formed. No new jobs would be taken or new starts in life made. Mark Twain waxed poetic when he wrote: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."


Even churches can know what it is to walk on the water. Wes Seliger is an unconventional clergyman who loves motorcycles. He tells a story about being in a motorcycle shop one day, drooling over a huge Honda 750 and wishing that he could buy it. A salesman came over and began to talk about his product. He talked about speed, acceleration, excitement, the attention-getting growl of the exhaust pipes, racing, risk. He talked about how the good-looking girls would be attracted to anyone riding on such a motorcycle.


Then he discovered that Wes was a church minister. It always happens, doesn't it? Immediately the salesman changed his language and even the tone of his voice. He spoke quietly and talked about good mileage and visibility. It was indeed a "practical" vehicle.


Wes observed: "Lawnmower salespersons are not surprised to find clergypersons looking at their merchandise; motorcycle salespersons are. Why? Does this tell us something about clergypersons and about the church? Lawnmowers are slow, safe, sane, practical, and middle-class. Motorcycles are fast, dangerous, wild, thrilling." Wes then asks a question: "Is being a Christian more like mowing a lawn or like riding a motorcycle? Is the Christian life safe and sound or dangerous and exciting?" He concludes, "The common image of the church is pure lawnmower--slow, deliberate, plodding. Our task is to take the church out on the open road, give it the acceleration, and see what the old baby will do!"


Are our churches lawn mower churches or motorcycle churches? Maybe it's time we took more risks for God. Maybe Jesus was testing Simon Peter when he allowed him to jump out of the boat. Maybe this is why Jesus made Peter the leader of the tiny Christian fellowship after his ascension. He needed somebody willing to take the risk to try walking on water to reach our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus didn't need a lawn mower church two thousand years ago. He needed a motorcycle church. Whenever the church has had an impact on society it has been because it has traded in its lawn mower for a motorcycle.


It makes me realize how safe and secure we have made the Christian faith. There was a time when the church was challenging its young people to go out as missionaries all over the world into lands that were hostile and foreboding. And young people by the thousands traded in their lawn mowers for motorcycles. During the anti-slavery or Civil Rights movements there were Christians who risked their lives to promote the notion that all people are created equal. Some were beaten, some were ostracized, some died. Where is the battlefield today? Where is the challenge? Has the world become that much safer, that more loving, that more just, that more like Jesus--or have we Christians retreated into our own safe little habitat? It is only as we attempt to do great things for God that we experience how great God truly is. Only as we attempt to walk on water do we feel God's strong arms holding us up. When we attempt to do great things for God, we find that God is with us each step of the way.


How long has it been since we took a risk for God? Perhaps you were in a group in which someone said something degrading about a person of another race or another religion? Did you rise to the occasion?

How long has it been since you took the simple risk of inviting a neighbour to join you in church?
How about our church? What great risks are we taking for God? God needs people who are willing to leave the safety of the boat, people who are willing to trade in their lawn mowers for motorcycles. God is calling us to walk on the water too, are we willing to get out of our boat and walk towards him, trusting that he will hold out his hand and catch us if we become fearful?
Amen.


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.


May the love of Jesus Christ sustain us, and the joy of Jesus Christ fill us, and the power of Jesus Christ strengthen us as we work for the growing of the kingdom; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always. Amen.