“Jesus calls us to follow him today”

A sermon/reflection for The First Sunday after Trinity

The readings for this Sunday are those of First Sunday after Trinity Sunday:

  • Genesis 18. 1-5 (21.1-7)

  • Psalm 100

  • Romans 5. 1-8

  • Matthew 9. 35- 10.8 (9-23)

You might like to use the link below to find the above readings for Trinity Sunday, Year A, and click on any of the reading above that you wish to use:

http://www.katapi.org.uk/CommonWorship/CWLectionarySelV.php

Prayer 

Loving Heavenly Father, we thank you for the words you have given us today. We know they are words of life and salvation. Open our hearts Father, touch our souls, forgive us our sins especially our lack of faith, help us to respond to your word. May we know that you are our Lord and Saviour who promises us the power from on high, your Holy Spirit. May we experience in our hearts your love and your presence always.

Amen. 

Introduction – “Green” for slow but steady spiritual growth

You see that I am wearing a green alb (scarf) today just to remind you that we are now back in the ordinary time of the Church Year after the major celebrations of Christmas, Easter, Pentecost etc. The feast of the Holy Trinity concluded the series of major commemorations and now we carry on for several months in this period of Ordinary Time until Advent. During this time, as I said, the priests wear “green” vestments. “Green” is a colour for life and quiet growth! Liturgically, these long months before Advent is a time of quiet spiritual growth just like the plants and trees. Green vestments and banners in church remind us to grow in the Holy Spirit in the ordinary days and nights of your Christian life!

Testimony (by JW).

Jesus went about all the cities and villages teaching, preaching, healing (Mt 9.35)

This is what we heard in the gospel of today. After thirty years of quiet and hidden life as a carpenter in Nazareth, Jesus began a public ministry that lasted for just three years. As we read in the gospels, he proclaimed the Kingdom of God saying “The Kingdom of God is come near. Repent and believe in the Good News.” Jesus went about the villages and towns preaching this gospel, the ‘good news’ of the Kingdom. And not only that, as if to manifest the signs of the Kingdom of God, he healed diseases and infirmities, raised the dead, cleansed lepers and cast out demons. The preaching about the Kingdom of God went side by side with signs and wonders!

Jesus has compassion for people (Matthew 9.36-38)

It is clear from what we have read in the gospel of today, the first part, that Jesus feels compassion for people. As we heard “he went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness.” (verse 35) Later on in the Acts of the Apostles, Peter would be preaching about Jesus in the same vein that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10.38)

Unlike his contemporary Jewish religious leaders (like the Sadducees and Scribes and Pharisees) he walks the talk, not just talk the talk. And that is expressly clear in the way he reaches out to the poor and the needy. In fact, he himself is the “Good News” that he preaches and ‘compassion’ and ‘care’ for the poor, oppressed, sick, fragile and needy highlights the quality of the Kingdom Jesus came to establish.

Jesus calls his disciples to promote and proclaim the Kingdom of God (Mt 10.1-4)

Jesus goes about the villages and towns meeting people, teaching, healing the sick and so on. Jesus has proclaimed the Kingdom of God. In this way, he is inaugurating a new way of life for the world. It is a way of love, a way of hope, a way of salvation. But even Jesus realises that he needs collaborators, helpers, to assist him in proclaiming the ‘good news’ of the Kingdom of God. That is why we hear that he calls people to become his followers, those who will be very close to him and learn from him as he went about doing good and preaching the ‘good news’ of hope and love.

We learn three important lessons from the Word of God today:

First, Jesus cares for us and has compassion for us

Jesus as it were showed by his own example what was expected of his followers. He had a heart for the poor, the weak, the sick, the vulnerable of society. He felt compassion for them and prioritised them during the three years of his public ministry. The disciples were called to be with Jesus, to spend time with him, to learn to know him, love him and follow him in his ways as he proclaimed the new life in the Kingdom of God.

Second, Jesus needs you and me to serve in His Kingdom today

Jesus has told us today: “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.” (Mt 9.37-38) The coronavirus pandemic has made an already fragile situation even worse with regards to the Church today. The declining numbers of Christians in the UK had been a huge challenge to the Church but the Covid19 with the closed churches, social distancing and self-isolation, has really exacerbated the situation! The Church of Christ has faced similar or worse crises in its 2000-year-old history and will survive COVID-19 but we do not know how and what the Church will look like after this pandemic. That is why the words of Jesus calls us to pause and reflect. Jesus is calling for labourers in his Kingdom, followers who will promote and proclaim with their lives the Kingdom of God that Jesus came to establish.

Third, the disciples were ordinary people like us, and he calls us as we are

Jesus called ordinary people to follow him, not princes, not kings or queens, not the wealthy and the talented, just ordinary, simple people like you and me. As we heard, none of the disciples were anything special. Most of them were fishermen, one was a tax collector. The point that we need to note is that it is not important what you do but whom you follow! That is what made the disciples who they were – they heard the call of Jesus and followed him!

 

Conclusion – Following Jesus and Serving His Kingdom today

Jesus calls us as we are and where we are. His invitation is to ‘follow’ him. And we can do so from the context of our lives. The only thing he asks is to ‘follow’ him. That means having a heart like his, a heart that is compassionate and caring. This means that the proclamation of the Kingdom of God is to include both preaching and healing, words and actions, a being and a doing.

The mission of the disciples and our mission as well derive from the wondrous nature of the commissioner, Jesus, and the wonderful content of the message of hope and healing and salvation. We only need to remember that the real power and authority for mission come from Jesus, and that it is always Jesus who takes the initiative, just as it was in the time of the twelve disciples, should encourage and challenge us to go, to reach out and to proclaim, in words, actions and our lives, the good news of the Kingdom. He is inviting you: “The harvest is rich, but the labourers are few…. Come follow me.” I need you. Come let us build up the Kingdom of God.

Summary
  1. Jesus showed who he was in proclaiming the Kingdom of God through compassionate, caring deeds of healing and hope to the lost and the last in society.
  2. The disciples were called to follow the example of Jesus to the lost and the lonely, the ill and the desperate.
  3. The strength to follow Jesus finds energy in the compassionate heart of Jesus. He gives us His Spirit and empowers us to proclaim the Kingdom by reaching out to our neighbours, the lost and those in despair.
  4. The primacy for a Christian today as always is to follow Jesus Christ by believing in him, trusting in him, loving him and following him! There is no other way!

Prayer

A Prayer you can say now:

Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for becoming one of us. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Thank you for rising from the dead to give me hope and the gift of eternal life. I repent of my sins and invite you into heart and life as my Lord and Saviour. Please grant me your Holy Spirit so that I may know you, love you and follow you every day of my life.

Amen.

[ST Mattapally]

in our thoughts and prayers

 

Some Prayers/ Intercessions for the First Sunday after Trinity

As services are now suspended in churches, do use/ share these intercessions at home or on line.

“Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian.
If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected,
it will wither and die.”

Jesus is alive.
Love has won the victory over evil and death.

Dear friends, we come before God to pray for ourselves and our world, recognising the urgency of our mission as Christians in the world, and asking for the grace to discern God’s will for us today in these uncertain and bewildering times.   (pause for silent prayer)

Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

That the Church in this country may rediscover her origins in the Holy Spirit, that the Queen as governor of the Church and head of the government may be blessed by God’s Holy Spirit;

That God may help the leaders of the Churches especially our archbishops Justin and Stephen, our acting Bishop David as well as Bishop Nicholas, the Assistant Bishops and all the priests, deacons, readers and authorised lay ministers;

That politicians and those in government may work for the common good at all levels and that the present Covid-19 crisis and social problems be resolved urgently and peacefully for the good of this nation and continent; (pause for silent prayer)

Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

That at this crisis of the COVID-19, we as Christians may understand the mission of Jesus afresh and may seek to be his collaborators and participants in the world around us, that we may have a new vision for God’s Kingdom, that we may be open to the Holy Spirit’s power and grace to influence our neighbourhoods and communities with the love, compassion and ‘good news’ of Christ; (pause for silent prayer);

Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

We pray for people all over the world especially in the US and in the UK that the issues resulting from the death of George Floyd may lead to a complete end to any and all types of racism in the world, that humanity as a whole may accept each other no matter who they are or where they come from, that we acknowledge that we are all children of the same Heavenly Father and have the same life blood flowing our veins, that we all come from God and are called to return to God our Common Father and Creator (pause for silent prayer);

Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

We now lift in prayer those known to us who are sick, weak, lost and lonely, and those who are recently bereaved. Encourage them, we pray, in their faith and knowledge of the love and compassion of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ;

Let us pause a moment, become aware of our breathing, relax in the presence of the Lord and humbly tell him what is deepest in our hearts for he knows us, loves us and forgives us (pause for silent prayer);

Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

God our strength, the resurrection of Jesus renews our hope: listen to our humble petitions and help us as we trust you to answer our prayers through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(after a silent, slightly longer pause …)

Father,
we feel loved,
we feel forgiven,
we feel saved.
Thank you for Jesus Christ your Son
who died for us on the cross
and rose again from the dead
and who offers us
true peace and true hope.
Help us to hold on to him
and to follow him
the way, the truth and the life.

Amen.                                                                                               

[ST Mattapally]