This Sixth Sunday after Trinity we worship with this written service. Services in church resume on Sunday 2nd August. This Sunday we are thankful to Revd Simon Cook, Vicar of the Parish of Kirklees Valley, for his reflection on today’s readings. Also thanks to Martin van Bleek, Musical Director, for continuing to send through such thoughtful links to anthems and hymns. We hope you enjoy listening to them!

O God, make speed to save us
O Lord, make haste to help us.

My heart tells of your word, ‘Seek my face.’
Your face, Lord, I will seek.

Merciful God,
you have prepared for those who love you
such good things as pass our understanding:
pour into our hearts such love toward you
that we, loving you in all things and above all things,
may obtain your promises,
which exceed all that we can desire;
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.

A Prayer before Bible Reading
O Lord, you have given us your word
for a light to shine upon our path.
Grant us so to meditate on that word,
and to follow its teaching,
that we may find in it the light
that shines more and more until the perfect day;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Reflection from Revd Simon Cook, Vicar of the Parish of Kirklees Valley.  The Lord is in this place …
So Jacob sets out from home to look for a wife, in fear that his brother will kill him for taking his blessing & birth-right. He comes to an unknown shrine, takes a stone for a pillow, falls asleep & has a dream where he meets God. Which just goes to prove that God can speak to people even if they fall asleep in church!
It’s an amazing picture of the hidden link between heaven and earth – the unseen miracle of angels ascending and descending a ladder – emphasising that what happens on earth and in heaven is inextricably connected, as messages travel both ways up and down. It calls us to see the universe as it really is – always connected to God. For Jacob in this uncertain moment, carrying the promise of Abraham & Isaac, but definitively cast out from home & on the run from his brother’s anger, this is what he needs – some kind of constant, some continuity from the past to the present & looking to the future. And this is what God gives him:
“I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring… …Know that I am with you & will keep you wherever you go, & will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
What a message of hope – what an encouraging dream! Perhaps not surprising, though, given that this is the father of the most famous dreamer of the Book of Genesis… All Jacob can say on waking is “Surely the LORD is in this place—and I did not know it!”
This experience, this unexpected vision, is the pivot moment of Jacob’s life – when he meets God for the first time in his story. Up till now God has been the silent witness of the toxic conflict and deceit between Jacob and Esau – but now, for all the apparent narrative justice of the situation, as Jacob is forced to run from the consequences of his trickery and deception, God intervenes decisively on his side, making a covenant promise with Jacob as he did before with Abraham and Isaac in turn. But Jacob has not chosen God – God has chosen him, and for all Jacob’s sneakiness and guile, God will work out His promise for and through him. God seeks Jacob out – and finding him where he is, makes that place holy by his presence.
The Gospel parable Jesus tells is all about nurturing the good seed amongst the weeds. Despite the enemy contaminating the crops, the man in the parable is committed to the harvest he has planted. His constant hope is that the good seed will grow, and even when his servants offer to pull out the weeds, the farmer refuses for the sake of the wheat. The sorting will come at the harvest, not before.
As with the story of Jacob, it’s not just about the past – it’s about the choices of the present and the promise of the future. It is a reminder that God’s story is wider, deeper and longer than our stories, our time on this earth – and yet we are part of that great promise of growth and harvest because of Jesus. Which is good to hear. Even as we may feel disillusioned, or separated from where we would like to be at the moment, far from family or friends; even as we may feel the weeds around our lives choking & preventing us from feeling close to God; so these two passages remind us of a God who is faithful, who keeps his promises and who will one day reap a harvest. They remind us that heaven is not so far away from us, even though we cannot always see it – and this world is neither as simple, as random or as rational as some people would have us believe. Because God is looking for us – seeking us out where we may be found, wherever we may run, like Jacob; protecting us from being uprooted and destroyed, even when we think we are lost forever among the weeds.
God’s promise to Jacob is a promise to us – fulfilled in Jesus, inviting us to respond to him wherever we are, because wherever we meet God – at home or church or anywhere else – that place becomes holy ground, a place of God, a ladder for us to heaven. So wherever you are today, hear the words of Jacob as a prayer for you in these uncertain times, a reminder that God is with you just as he always said he would be: “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Amen.
Prayers for Ourselves and Our World
We believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven & earth. We believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
Almighty God, your Son taught us to love one another, even as you love us. Thank you that you have chosen us in your love to be your people, heirs of the promise of life in all its fulness.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
God of wisdom & love, giver of all good things, we thank you for your loving kindness in our lives, and all the moments where you come to meet us where we are. Help us to share the hope we have in you with everyone we meet. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
God of hope and healing, bless this broken and divided world with peace, Sustain and heal your whole creation. Guide the nations of the world with your wisdom, that in deepening cooperation and understanding, justice may flow like a river and righteousness like a never-ending stream, and inequality and poverty may be ended forever across this planet.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Nurturing God, you care for all your children, you know each one and hear each prayer, you know each heart & see each hurt. Heal, console & support those who need your care & bless all those in trouble or pain at this time. Be near to those whom we now name before you in silence…
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Eternal God, sinners find mercy in you and saints find joy.
You hold all souls in life; the dead and the living alike are in your care.
We thank you for your people of every age and place, and for all those dear to our own hearts, who kept the faith on earth, and have entered into the joy of your everlasting presence. Inspire us by their example, encourage us by their fellowship, and bring us with them at the last to glory evermore, Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
The anthem for Sunday is: O sacrum convivium – Thomas Tallis
The hymn is: NEH 239 – Lord of all hopefulness

God of our pilgrimage,
you have led us to the living water:
refresh and sustain us
as we go forward on our journey,
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.